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Get ready for fall with the ASTD Handbook of Measuring and Evaluating Training

August 20, 2010 14:14 by Tora Estep

Summer is drawing to a close, and, although I will miss summer produce from the farmer's market, I look forward to fall. Even more than January 1 does for many, for me fall represents a chance to start over, improve my skills and knowledge, develop as a person and a professional, maybe take some classes and read some books--just to get better. If you are like me and think of fall as a time of year for improving your processes, increasing your skills, and making sure that your contribution to your organization is more powerful and better appreciated, then one book that may be interesting to you is The ASTD Handbook of Measuring and Evaluating Training, edited by Patti Phillips. The reason I would recommend the book is probably because I think evaluation represents a method for running a tighter ship, making sure that what you do really has an impact and has the right impact--and tighter ships are what fall is all about, right? (You know, you need a tighter ship because winter's coming, it's cold and windy, storms are on the, well, never mind, I digress.) 

The Handbook is a substantive work that provides practical information about everything you need to know about evaluation (or at least, we hope it provides everything--if it doesn't, let us know so that we can fill in any holes at the accompanying website, where you can also get a sample chapter). It tells you how to get started with an evaluation project, emphasizing the importance of identifying what you want a training program to accomplish from the get-go and developing measurable objectives right from the start (basically putting the E in the ADDIE model right up there with the A, so it's kind of the AEDDI model, which sounds sort of Icelandic and neat to me).  

Then it provides lots of practical information about how to collect data using a variety of tools (surveys, tests, interviews, focus groups, action planning, and more) and how to analyze the data once you have it. Another section covers issues surrounding measurement and evaluation, such as technology, how to report the results, what you do with the results once you have them, plus some case studies. And of course, there is the Voices section: a collection of interviews with some of the pioneers in measurement and evaluation: Brinkerhoff, Broad, Fitz-enz, Kaufman, Kirkpatrick, Phillips, Robinson, and Rothwell (you can actually hear the interviews in their entirety here).

One of the values of the book is that it is written by a balanced group of academicians and practitioners. Here are points of view from both folks who have studied how to do this stuff for ages, but also from people who work with it, every day, in their organizations. Just to give you a sense of what's in the book, here's a random selection of the kinds of things you can get from the book:

  • knowledge checks and practitioner tips
  • examples of objectives for a software implementation project
  • data collection plan template
  • comprehensive planning tool template
  • a method for determining sample size
  • strategies for improving response rates
  • sample interview protocol
  • sample fishbone diagram
  • steps in the action planning process
  • guidelines for how to work with statistics--basically statistics 101
  • methods for designing control groups
  • methods for converting measures to monetary value
  • introductions to several important calculations (such as BCR, ROI, payback period, net present value, and so on)--and how to use them
  • formats for reports.


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Categories: Books | Evaluation and ROI