Re: More on training evaluations

Subject: Re: More on training evaluations
From: Sandra Charker <scharker -at- connectives -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Sat, 03 Jun 2000 13:03:52 +1000

Steve Schwarzman wrote:

Ladies and gentlemen, we're not disagreeing here. When I wrote that level
one evaluations are called smile sheets because answers commonly fall into
the "good" category (sort of a "Lake Wobegon" effect, where all the students
- or in this case, courses - are above average), this does not contradict
your experience.

Remember, it's not the students who named them smile sheets. It's the
trainers. Any serious evaluation, even or especially a negative one, is far
more valuable to a good trainer (or the trainer's boss!) than a line of
straight Goods, and will have the impact it deserves.

I never return course evaluations. If forced, I return the piece of paper without filling it in. If anybody notices that it's blank and hands it back (happened once), I fill it in without reading the questions.

Things might have changed, but my experience was that evaluation questions ranged from ambiguous to irrelevant. If I had strong feelings about a course or a trainer, I'd rather write a letter. If the course was any good at all, I'd rather think about what I've been learning.

This, admittedly obstreperous, attitude might be of general interest because it comes from the same source as my willingness to lie in Web questionnaires if I can't avoid answering them. Some TechWhirlers might recall the Georgia Tech survey which showed that willingness to lie about personal information increases as experience on the Web increases ( htm ). If my resistance to canned evaluation sheets is similarly part of a wider phenomenon, then forced choice evaluation sheets might be even less meaningful than the smile sheet effect suggests.

All this is to say that level one evals should be done, and in fact you
should make the questions as detailed as you reasonably can in order to
elicit real thought...

Yabbut do you want people "really thinking" about evaluating the course, or do you want them thinking about the course content - how to apply it; how it fits with other knowledge; the questions it provoked? Seems to me that a lot of attempts to get feedback on training might interfere with the absorption of the training itself.

Yours crankily,

Sandra Charker


We have enough Youth.
How about a Fountain of Smart.

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