A Better Level One Evaluation

For those that are new to training, level one evaluations refer to Donald Kirkpatrick's methods or levels for evaluation. I've discussed this before, however a level one evaluation measures the learner's reaction to training. Simply put; did they like the training or not.  We've all has these handed out to us moments before we dash out of a training session. These are the evaluations you fill out where you rate your feelings about the training and the instructor. Sometimes we refer to these as smile sheets.

I believe that very little thought is put into filling these out by most of your learners.  The majority of your learners will very quickly determine which side of the check boxes are either good or bad and then arbitrarily check off all the answers to reflect their overall feeling. Usually the learners don't take time to read each question and select an answer that is truthful or accurate about how they feel.  This is why I feel there may be a better way to administer a level one evaluation.

Here is an alternative to this method. Rather than waiting until the end of a course or session, pick a half way point to administer an evaluation. If you are running a one day session, hand it out just after lunch. If you are running a two day session, hand it out at the beginning of day two. At least this way they will take the appropriate amount of time to complete this activity, rather than rush through, hoping to get the extra time for a break or their departure home.

I recommend that you change the questions to reflect that you are only part way through the session. In addition avoid a rating scale. Ask open ended questions so that you can pinpoint exactly what concerns your learners have. Ask questions like:

  • What am I as an instructor doing well?
  • What would you like to see more of today?
  • What would you like to see less of today?

You could also review these with the class and build an agenda to ensure that the topics identified in this evaluation are covered during the rest of the session. You may want to remind your learners beforehand that while you are open to covering additional topics you will need to stay on topic to achieve the learning objectives of the course.  If you are teaching your learners about a new point of sale system,  having an open discussion about payroll will not achieve the goals of today's training.

The advantage of this style of evaluation is that you can shift gears in your teaching style and hopefully provide what your learners need to be successful.  Next time you have a course, try this as either a simple alternative to what you have done in the past or simply add it to your existing agenda.  I'm sure you will see positive results.