Tip #890:  Rethinking Learning Evaluation

“Learning is the relatively permanent change in knowledge or behavior that is the result of experience.”  Stephen Robbins

There is a new model of evaluation in town: the eight-level Learning-Transfer Evaluation Model (LTEM) developed by Dr. Will Thalheimer. It is designed to help organizations and learning professionals determine if their evaluation methods are effective in validating learning success. [Note: I’ve added the loose comparison to Kirkpatrick’s Model.]

The Four Ineffective Evaluation Methods

Level 1:  Attendance.  Butts in Seats

The learner signs up, starts, attends, or completes a learning experience.[Learners may attend but not learn.]

Level 2:  Activity. Class Participation

The learner engages in activities related to learning, such as attention, interest, and participation. [Learners may do these things but not learn.]

Level 3:  Learner Perceptions. ~ Reaction

  1. The learner answers questions that reveal insights regarding learning effectiveness, such as learner comprehension, realistic practice, learner motivation to apply, and after-learning support. [This can hint at outcomes but should be augmented with objective outcome measures.]
  2. The learner answers questions that do NOT reveal insights regarding learning effectiveness, such as learner satisfaction, course reputation, etc. [These are not related to learning results.]

Level 4:  Knowledge. ~ Learning

The learner answers questions about facts/terminology.

  1. Knowledge recitation during or right after the learning event.
  2. Knowledge retention after several days or more.[Knowing or remembering facts or terminology does not fully enable performance.]

The Four More Effective Evaluation Methods

Level 5:  Decision Making Competence.

The learner makes decisions given relevant realistic scenarios.

  1. Decision making competence during or right after the learning event. [Learners may forget decision making competencies.] ~ Learning
  2. Remembered decision making competence after several days or more. [Adequate to certify decision making competence.] ~ Behavior

Level 6:  Task Competence.

The learner performs relevant realistic actions and decision making.

  1. Task competence during or right after the learning event. [Learners may forget task competencies.] ~ Learning
  2. Remembered task competence after several days or more. [Adequate to certify task competence.] ~ Behavior

Level 7: Transfer. ~ Behavior

The learner uses what was learned to perform work tasks successfully, as clearly demonstrated through objective measures.

  1. Assisted transfer: when performance is substantially prompted/supported.
  2. Full transfer: when the learner demonstrates full agency in applying the learning. [Both are adequate.]

Level 8: Effects of Transfer. A much broader version of Results, somewhat idealistic

When transfer outcomes affect learners, coworkers/family/friends, organization, community, society, and the environs. [Certification requires certification of transfer plus a rigorous method of assessing transfer’s causal impact, including positive and negative effects.]

Question: How do you like this evaluation model?

May your learning be sweet- and safe.


#learningevaluation #learningtransferevaluationmodel


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