Still Using Paper Evaluations?

by Jody Bruner

Like many learning & development shops, we used paper evaluations without question since the beginning. But this year, we reevaluated, made the switch to electronic evaluations, and are thrilled that we did. Here are some of the benefits we’re enjoying:

For head office: In 2015, we delivered over 350 workshops. Our training coordinator, Sarah, spent 30 admin hours each week transcribing written evaluations into client reports. Imagine! Using electronic evaluations frees her up from this drudgery without compromising value, and lets us make better use of her talents. In addition, using digital technology takes us one small step toward being paperless.

For our learners: Electronic evaluations are easy and convenient. Participants like time to think about their responses. And they’re used to giving and getting feedback online—after all, it’s the norm everywhere but in the classroom.

For our trainers and instructional designers: This audience cares mainly about the success of the program and being able to use feedback to improve it. This study from the University of Saskatchewan dispels many of the perceived disadvantages of using electronic evaluations and reinforces the benefits we’re experiencing:

  • Although the response rate is lower, the results still reliably represent the entire population.
  • You can expect more comments. (63% of online respondents provide comments vs 10% of paper-based respondents.)
  • You receive better quality comments because learners have time to reflect before responding. We found no evidence to support concerns that participants who take the time to comment are the ones who have something negative to say.
  • You buy back precious class time.

For relationship managers: The report yields information they can use to improve our workshops AND sell more of them. It also demonstrates our currency and willingness to innovate.

For our clients (training managers):

  • Better quality reports – They see a visual snapshot per course and long term aggregated results.
  • Faster reporting – Clients receive summary reports about 7 days after the workshop.
  • Current best practices – They can demonstrate to their stakeholders that they are working with vendors who stay current and employ best practices.

Our experience

  • We are getting a minimum of 75% participant response rate (usually between 80-100).
  • Participants provide many more qualitative comments.
  • Admin time has greatly decreased.

Key learnings

Most people would rather have a root canal than change the way they’ve always done things. And change can only be effective with a LOT of communication.

  • Communication with stakeholders is critical, you can’t communicate enough!
  • General communications about evaluation methodology and specific communication about processes are both critical.
  • Two-way communication is extremely important to allow people to learn and assimilate change and ask questions.

If you haven’t made the move to electronic evaluations yet, we can recommend it. If you’d like to learn about our experience, just give us a call.

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