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Welcome to the e-learning lesson on Evaluating Training and Technical Assistance. Effective training and technical assistance providers embrace evaluation and outcome measurement, set high expectations for their own performance, and ensure that they are offering clients the best value by continuously improving their services. Evaluation and outcome measurement can help organizations to measure their effectiveness, identify areas of service that are effective or in need of improvement, and develop clarity of purpose, uniting staff around a set of common goals and expectations. Most importantly, however, proper evaluation techniques provide your organization with proof of their value to existing funders, potential funders, and the larger community. Whether this value is communicated in dollars or the number of individuals served, quantifiable performance measures are becoming important in the increasingly competitive social service industry. At the end of this lesson you will be able to relate how proper outcome measurement depends on effective evaluation, recall the basic levels of evaluation, and identify valuable tools and techniques that your organization can use to incorporate evaluation into all the services you provide.

Evaluation processes validate program outcomes.

An outcome is a change in individuals, groups, organizations, systems, or communities that occurs during or after program activities. An outcome answers the question “so what?” So what if you provide an organization with 10 hours of technical assistance on fundraising techniques? Is the organization better able to raise money? Do they actually raise more money now? So what if you train an organization on how to develop a strategic planning process? Can the organization effectively perform the steps involved? Do they actively engage in strategic planning now?

Quantitative and qualitative evaluation measures help to answer this “so what?” question by methodically linking an organization’s actions to client results. Proper evaluation processes and procedures help a training and technical assistance provider to answer the questions: what has changed as a result of this program? How has this program made a difference? How are the lives of our clients better as a result of the program?

Keep in mind that logic models and evaluation processes can provide insight regarding your organization’s contribution to positive results. In order to prove direct causation, however, an organization will need to take part in experimental research and a controlled study to link training and technical assistance to results.

Kirkpatrick’s four levels of evaluation provide a framework.

Donald L Kirkpatrick is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin and a former President of the American Society for Training and Development. He is well known throughout the educational and training community for his work in creating a framework of training evaluation.
Kirkpatrick identifies four levels of evaluation.

  • Level 1-Reaction: The first level of evaluation measures the audience’s opinion of the training or service delivered.
  • Level 2- Learning: The second level of evaluation measures whether or not the training or service resulted in a knowledge gain for the recipients.
  • Level 3- Behavior:  Level 3 assessments enquire as to whether an individual actually applied the knowledge they gained in a valuable way.
  • Level 4-Results:  The fourth and final level of assessment explores return on investment by showing that changes in behavior led to consequent changes in program outcomes.

Each level of evaluation is discussed in more detail in Chapters 2-5 of this lesson.