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Evaluation as a Strategic Tool
Why is evaluation important to you, the training executive? This article will attempt to answer this question from the point of view of someone who directs the training efforts for the entire enterprise.
The creation of well-constructed evaluations can be useful in generating support for budget expenditures, continuing and modifying existing programs, and measuring the impact specific training programs have on the organization's business goals. In order to do this, successful training executives must be knowledgeable of the strategic role that is played by an effective evaluation program. Equally, they must also have a working knowledge of what constitutes good evaluation practice in order to understand, challenge and guide those who would create and implement an effective program.
To support the training executive in this critical role, this article will discuss the strategic importance of evaluation, describe Kirkpatrick's four levels of evaluation and define the components of an effective evaluation for each Kirkpatrick level.
With this practical knowledge, the training executive should be armed with the essentials of a good evaluation. This knowledge is necessary in order to direct staff in developing an effective and comprehensive evaluation program that meets the short-term and long-term business needs of the organization by monitoring the appropriate metrics with the appropriate evaluation.
Evaluating Strategic and Tactical Learning
Broadly speaking, organizational learning falls into two categories: strategic and tactical. Strategic learning starts with the organization's goals and its desired outcomes. Increased market share, growth of new vertical markets and new product innovations are examples of the goals addressed by strategic learning. On the other hand, tactical learning is a response to a particular performance problem or regulation. Examples of tactical learning goals are decreasing customer complaints, achieving targeted competencies for a predetermined set of criteria such as OSHA or Sarbanes-Oxley regulations, or meeting certification requirements like the A+ certification from the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) or the Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE). Both types of learning require appropriate evaluations to determine if their goals have been met.
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