You assembled your Pathways, created your plans, and encouraged your employees to actively explore all the content you carefully curated. But here’s the big question: What are you learning from all the valuable information generated by your people as they learn?
At CredSpark, we work with hundreds of L&D leaders to ensure they’re maximizing opportunities to gain employee insights and have a strategic plan for using the data they get back. While no two companies are using an LXP in exactly the same way, they’re all trying to measure the impact of their work.
Whether you’re just getting started by defining a learning measurement and evaluation strategy or tweaking something already in place, asking a few key questions can help you capture accurate, complete and actionable data.
Fair warning: Few organizations can confidently say they’re checking each box. Fewer still have a strategy that ensures data related to all five areas is collected in a coherent, efficient manner. But that shouldn’t stop you from getting started on improvements.
Key No. 1: Know how your people respond to your content.
Getting learner feedback is important in every learning context, but perhaps most of all with adults. Find out if they’re able to access and process the learning you’ve created for them, as well as how they feel about the experience.
Key No. 2: Know if your people are actually learning
How sticky is your learning? It’s easy to default to multiple-choice questions as an evaluation tool, but they rarely reflect how knowledge is used in the real world. A more authentic evaluation strategy will include recall-based quizzes and a mix of more sophisticated assessments. Most importantly, don’t neglect reflective self-assessments; for example, use confidence-based scoring or prompt users to categorize incorrect answers so they can think more deeply about their learning. With the right framework, reflective assessments can be your most powerful measurement tools.
Key No. 3: Know if learning is being applied.
Evaluating the impact of learning requires a thoughtful and comprehensive longitudinal approach. But if you really want to know if your employees are changing their behavior over time, you’ll need to set up a way to measure that. For example, are you tracking how scores on assessments align with performance reviews?
Key No. 4: Know if your learning materials are comprehensive and complete.
It can be hard to discriminate between content that’s popular versus content that’s effective. No matter how good your instructional designers are or how savvy your subject matter experts, it’s worthwhile to put a feedback loop in place to ensure your employees can tell you how they’re experiencing your content. Ideally, that includes using a universal measure like the Net Promoter Score (NPS), so you can look across content and departments.
Key No. 5: Collect data you can act on.
Designing an evaluation strategy means knowing what questions to ask and when, plus knowing what the answers enable you to do. For example, a robust tagging system for your content can help you trace spikes or dips in performance in particular areas — so you can intervene and ensure your content is fully and completely preparing your people.
Let’s get practical: Dos and Don’ts
When you’re creating your measurement strategies:
- Take an ecosystem approach to evaluation and assessment: All kinds of data points should feed back to a central location, where they can be synthesized and analyzed. Ask each learning group to provide its plan for each of the five key points above. They don’t have to use the same tools or even the same approach, but they all need to be measuring the same things.
- Gather feedback as close to the learning experience as possible, while people have it fresh in their minds and can articulate what would make the experience better. Quantitative feedback should be captured regularly — at the moment of learning and again over time, so you can see how learning is retained and applied.
- Trust your employees, and make sure they know they can trust you. Treat your people like partners. Offer them ways to take control of their learning, and to help you know what’s working for them (and what’s not).
- Have a plan for any data you’re collecting: Where will it live? What will you do with it? Who needs to see it? When? How? How often? These are all questions that can inform your data strategy. Your data strategy needs to progress in lockstep with your learning strategy, not trail behind as an afterthought.
- Ask questions if you can’t do anything about the answers. It’s tempting to ask people if they liked or benefited from something. But what happens if they say no? Will you be able to make changes? Remember, trust is key.
- Assume numbers are the end-all and be-all. It can be tempting to use the data you have to draw the conclusions you need; the harder-but-better choice is to look at your data and ask if it can support your conclusions. If a person completes a lot of learning, does that mean they have learned? If a person receives good reviews but does not perform as well on assessments, does that mean they haven’t learned? The smartest companies make quantifiable data just one input into employee evaluations, as tempting as it might be to lean more on pretty round numbers.
All Degreed clients have access to CredSpark, an embedded assessment and survey tool. CredSpark helps learning teams execute their measurement strategies. An even more powerful feature set is available with CredSpark+.
No matter the tools used, creating and implementing an overarching plan to collect, analyze and act on learning data isn’t easy. It also won’t happen organically: It takes a top-down, strategic approach from leadership, and it must come with a strong signal that assessment and evaluation is taken so seriously that the least importance will be given to data that’s easiest to gather. Instead, show you’re using assessment and evaluation data to understand the pulse of your organization. Spikes or outliers can help direct your attention to certain areas or people, but in and of themselves those data points are just signals, not summations.
Finally, in the world of adult learning, trust might be the most important factor. Harness your data to help you cultivate, monitor and deepen trust by being open and transparent about goals and progress. Invite your people to be a part of that process. And always, always, always be asking questions of your employees. Their success is your success, so talk with them early and often to ensure you’re set up to achieve that success together.
Casey Cornelius is Head of Content & Client Services at CredSpark.