One of the criteria identified in a recent post entitled “7 Criteria for Effective Feedback“, by David Cummings, implies that good feedback should be interactive. Interestingly, in a training class, whether instructor-led classroom or virtual learning event, the feedback is predominantly written and received with little or no interactivity.
Checking Off Boxes
In my experience, most training participants prefer to remain anonymous and provide feedback quickly and using silent, unobtrusive methods. Often the opportunity to provide detailed written comments to the training provider are incomplete, limited, or simply avoided altogether. Most participants seemed to prefer “checking off the boxes” quickly.
The benefit of written feedback regarding a training experience is two-fold. One reason – it is instant performance feedback to the instructor which allows a trainer to quickly adjust the logistics, content, timing, and delivery of the content, if needed. This is particularly useful when delivering a multi-session or multi-day training workshop or conference. Being able to pivot and adjust the class quickly is a skillset developed over time and aided by quality feedback for each training event – whether interactive or written. The second benefit of written feedback for learning events, is the ability to measure the audience opinion in real time.
Many times after a challenging or difficult training session, my co-trainers and myself have anxiously waited until the last participant departed, and quickly located the online reviews or the written copies of the evaluations. Our interest was for the written comments. Checking boxes benefits those who are focused on calculating rankings and “scores”. But the written comments provide the true meat of the evaluation. Here, you get a sense of what the participants wanted, needed and their perceived value of the content. These comments provide immediate feedback that the trainer can then take back to management and/or act upon.
When you deliver the same class or workshop over a lengthy period of time, there can be a tendency to become “course confident” and relaxed. The evaluations that are received, especially with written feedback – whether electronic or handwritten, keep the instructor focused on facilitation learning, delivering client content in quality method, and using all the training techniques in their trainer toolkit.
Review the list of effective ways to provide feedback and identify the methods that will work best in your environment.