Join Jeff Toister for an in-depth discussion in this video Defining learning outcomes, part of Instructional Design: Needs Analysis.
The final step in a training needs analysis is to define learning outcomes. This is one you set specific learning goals for your training program. It may be helpful to review the difference between project goals and learning goals. Project goals are the business results the training program is meant to help accomplish. In our interviewing skills example, the project goal is to reduce turnover for new employees from 30% down to 15%. Learning goals refer to the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities that participants need to gain so they can achieve the project goals.
Without setting learning goals, our training might be generic or off-target. With goals in place, we know exactly what to train. Goals can also help define the limits of training versus other solutions. Let's say your company is rolling out a new app to let people complete expense reports on their smartphones. What happens if, after everyone attends the training, there are widespread errors on expense reports submitted through the app? Without concrete training goals, it will be easy to say the training is at fault. However, with good training goals, you can prove people were properly trained on how to use the app.
This means something else is causing the problem. For instance, there might be a bug in the app that was previously undetected. Good training goals make it easy to prove that someone was trained. A popular way to write training objectives is with the ABCD model. The audience refers to who is being trained. The behavior is what specifically they need to be able to do. The condition describes that situation where they'll be asked to do it in order to prove they've been trained. And degree is the level of mastery they must prove to be sufficiently trained. You can download the ABCD worksheet that accompanies this course and use it to write your own learning objectives. You may also wish to use the worksheet to follow along with a couple of examples.
Let's imagine we need to write a training program for cashiers. The training program is designed to ensure that cashiers can reconcile their cash drawer at the end of the shift. Here's what an ABCD learning objective might look like. Audience: cashiers in training. Behavior: complete a cash reconciliation sheet. Condition: post-shift, without assistance. And degree: reconciliation sheet completed with no errors. So our ABCD goal might read: cashiers in training will complete an error-free cash reconciliation sheet without assistance, at the end of a training shift. The cashier's training is complete once they are able to achieve this goal. Now, let's return to the interviewing skills example. We'll need to write a learning objective for the course. The ultimate goal is to make good hiring decisions. So, we need to think of a way to evaluate supervisor's ability to do this. Here's what our ABCD goal might look like. The audience is comprised of the 50 supervisors who will attend this training.
The behavior we want is for each supervisor to make good hiring decisions. So how will we measure this? One possibility is to present them with a scenario in training. Well, they have to select the best candidate from several options. Now, degree is how good they must be. In this case, we might require them to get three out of four correct. It's tempting to make the requirement four out of four. But, keep in mind that the stricter the requirement, the harder it is for someone to complete the training. So, our completed ABCD training objective might read, supervisors will demonstrate the ability to make good hiring decisions by selecting the best candidate in at least three out of four scenarios introduced in the interviewing skills training program.
Of course, there are other training topics we'll need to cover in our program. Our analysis identified some specific knowledge, skills, and abilities that supervisors will need. We can list these as supporting objectives. The first is to locate the following items on the company intranet. The interview preparation checklist, an interview question list, and the interview procedure. The next one is to identify the ideal amount of time to spend interviewing each candidate. The third supporting objective is to describe the ideal setting to conduct a job interview. The success or failure of many training programs can be tied back to the quality of the training analysis. In particular, the chances of creating a really good program increase substantially when you are able to create clear and specific learning objectives.
- Setting project objectives
- Identifying the target audience for training
- Selecting data sources
- Facilitating focus groups and interviews
- Designing effective surveys
- Identifying participant needs
- Defining learning outcomes
- Presenting results to project sponsors