I got an email today from someone asking me about a term I created called "Evaluation Objectives." I realize that I have not actually written anything for public consumption on this, SO this blog post will suffice until my book on workplace learning is released. Apologies if the following is not completely clear.
The basic idea is that we ought to have evaluation objectives rather than learning objectives in the traditional sense.
Specifically, we need to decouple our learning objectives from our evaluation objectives so that what we evaluate is directly relevant. Of course our evaluation objectives and learning objectives have to be linked, but not necessarily with a one-on-one correspondence.
Suppose you want to train managers to be better at championing change efforts.
Traditionally, we might have objectives like:
The learner will be able to describe how people tend to resist change.
Or, put in a more performance-oriented fashion, a traditional objective might read:
The learner will engage in activities that lessen colleagues' resistance to change.
Examples of evaluation objectives might be as follows:
1. The learner will initiate a change effort within one month after the training ends and be successful in getting 75% of his/her colleagues to sign a public statement of support for the effort.
OR, if real-world compliance cannot be assessed, an evaluation objective might be something like:
2. In the "Change-Management Simulation" the learner will score 65 points out of a total possible of 90.
OR, if a simulated performance can't be created, an evaluation objective might focus on ratings by employees.
3. Two months after the training ends, the learners' colleagues will rate them on average at least 4.5 (of 6 levels) on the multi-rater 360-degree change-management scale on each of the 5 indices.
OR, if this can't be done, an evaluation objective might focus on a series of scenario-based questions.
4. On the 20-question scenario-based quiz on change management given two weeks after the course ended, the learner will get at least 17 correct.
NOTE: More than one evaluation objective can be used for any learning intervention.
Evaluation objectives are NOT tied to individual learning points that have to be learned, though of course they are linked because both should be relevant to the overarching goals of the learning program.
THE BIG BENEFIT:
When objectives focus on the big picture, as compared to when there is a one-to-one correspondence between learning objectives and evaluation items, (1) they are more relevant, (2) the learners are more likely to see them as valuable and worth achieving, (3) organization stakeholders are more likely to see the evaluation results as having face validity, (4) the evaluation results will give us additional pertinent information on how to improve our learning interventions.
Anyway, I'm going to cover this in more detail in the book I'm working on, but for now, that's what evaluation objectives are all about.