Learn More


Published on September 3rd, 2019 | by Emergent Enterprise


The Death of the Training Department (Part Seven) : Assessing Assessment

A series of blog posts encouraging discussion about the future of enterprise training and L&D.

You can sit with a group of seasoned learning professionals and get a lot of head nodding when you share that training should result in learners being able to perform, execute and demonstrate whatever is being taught. And, get a hearty “Amen!” when you stay away from objectives that are merely satisfied with learners who can explain, remember or understand the content. Put simply, a training victory is when the learner does more than just retain the information – we want them to be able to act: complete a task, execute a process, make the right decision. The true effectiveness of training is changed behavior.

All that being said, L&D departments typically assess learning deliverables by seeing how much the learner has retained. The training is given and then the captured learner is assaulted with an array of questions, problem-solving case studies, scenarios and gamificiation (!) to see what stuck. The learning engagement asks the learner to prove what he/she can recall at the moment and if the results meet a certain threshold the green light is given to move forward. The training industry really didn’t need the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve to show that learners weren’t retaining the key information from the training experience to do their jobs, learner performance was proving the fact day in and day out.

One year I received a meat smoker for my birthday from my family. Delicious outcomes aside, smoking meat is a learned discipline. My first attempt – a pork shoulder- involved a lot of learning. All the steps needed to arrive at tender and juicy smoked pulled pork required an attentive day of smoker training. If I would have taken a test at the end of my first meat smoking day on what I had learned, I would have had a pretty good score.  But, given the same test a month later would have easily resulted in an inedible entree. In today’s “constantly connected” age, when it came time to smoke meat again I went through the day with my mobile device by my side reminding me of the applicable information as I needed it. The brisket was done and done right.

Is it time to move away from training that prioritizes learner retention? Knowing that we can supply customized and specific content at any time to individual users (notice I didn’t say “learners”) during their daily workflow, wouldn’t we rethink our learning objectives, our training content and, yes, the learning assessment? Are the assessment results proving a level of competency actually related to the real goal of performance improvement?  By designing training that sends the employee out with less information but more “constantly connected” support has a certain irony to it.

Every day, training departments of leading industries are shepherding their employees through learner experiences that result in low retention and poor performance. By reimagining training approaches so that they take advantage of the best features of emergent technologies, learners/users will be more consistently satisfied and the learning objectives that have been desired all along will be met. That’s as satisfying as a tender, smoked brisket.

Photo by Robina Weermeijer on Unsplash

Scott McCormick is the CEO of Emergent Enterprise and Editor of emergent-enterprise.com, a tech news website covering AR/VR, AI and IoT. He has a 30+ year history in corporate communications and training as part of three startups and speaks across the country about emergent technologies and their user experience. Find out more here: https://emergent-enterprise.com/about-us/

Tags: , ,

About the Author

The Emergent Enterprise (EE) website brings together current and important news in enterprise mobility and the latest in innovative technologies in the business world. The articles are hand selected by Emergent Enterprise and not the result of automated electronic aggregating. The site is designed to be a one-stop shop for anyone who has an ongoing interest in how technology is changing how the world does business and how it affects the workforce from the shop floor to the top floor. EE encourages visitor contributions and participation through comments, social media activity and ratings.

Back to Top ↑