Top five tips for measuring the value of learning

Evaluating the effectiveness of a learning intervention is often where projects fall down – it can be hard to know how to prove a return on investment. But isn’t it about time we had some common methods to evaluate and measure the value of learning? Here are Saffron’s top five tips for measuring that all important ROI.

1. Define what success looks like

To measure the right thing, you need to first know what the learning aims to do. Is it about mitigating risk or improving productivity, for example? Are you trying to reduce the number of security breaches or are you attempting to improve performance relating to targets or sales metrics? What does success look like for your organisation?

2. Align the metrics to the business needs

When identifying ways to measure success, keep them simple but try to think beyond typical LMS measures such as completion and assessment data. Make sure you know what the business needs are, and how the training is intended to address those needs, and align the measures of success to this.

3. Set the baseline

Ensure you have robust baseline data at the start of the project so that you can assess the performance impact of the learning. Capture results over agreed time periods and against pre-determined success factors. Then turn this on its head and ask how the business would be performing without the training. What would happen if you didn’t do anything?

4. Look beyond average scores

Use a variety of qualitative and quantitative evaluation tools and techniques. Compare the performance of a group of training users against a control group who didn’t take the training. Complement this with happy sheets, feedback forms and gathering verbatim comment. And get line managers reporting on behavioural change on the ground.

5. Consider what’s appropriate

Proving ROI from social learning is our next challenge. There is no LMS to draw data from and you can’t test learners. Instead, have polls to determine the usefulness of information, rate and rank posts, and measure the learning outcome rather than the ROI because perhaps this should be more about the individual learning process than the organisation’s return. Our advice is to trust the learner!

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Top ten tips for measuring the value of learning

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vhill - Operations

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  • Thanks for these tips. I agree with all of them in principle, but would add some caveats. First, there are always unintended/unanticipated outcomes and we should be prepared to measure those, too. Second, we don’t always need a baseline. If learners can tell me what they learned, how they applied it, and what difference it made, then I don’t need to know what they knew before training. And third, it is very difficult to identify a true control group in these kinds of studies and often not worth the effort. If we listen to the learners and tell their stories of learning, that is usually sufficiently compelling evidence of learning or non-learning.