Denise Meyerson, Founder and Director
I want to introduce legislation that obliterates the current version of ASQA’s post-training student survey; to sling the old “happy sheet” into the wastepaper basket where it belongs. It’s useless data.
If a trainer holds a Cert IV in Training and Assessment, we can assume that she’s competent and able to train effectively. If the student feels that the training was inadequate, and they haven’t learned the vocational skill needed for the real world, it’s critical for us to know. The problem is, the student experience survey doesn’t encourage that kind of feedback, instead gauging the likeability of the facilitator, or something as trivial as whether the room was the right temperature. Once they’ve completed training, we need to know how much the students have learned, not how comfortable they were in the sessions or how much they liked their trainer. Their comfort level isn’t a predictor for how skilled and prepared they are for the workplace. If anything, they should be stretched to the point of being out of their comfort zones, as they slay bad habits and gain new skills.
Vocational training doesn’t need to stay in the dark ages, where wishy-washy student feedback has greater regard than workplace competence. But in the ASQA audit model, learner enjoyment is seen as paramount. There’s no denying that student engagement is important, but what’s more important is how skilled and prepared the student is for the workplace.
How can we gauge this instead?
The forgetting curve tells us that within 7 days, we can only recall 7-10% of what we were taught. It’s damn hard to beat.
You can measure retention by sending out scenario and quiz questions, which tests how much your participants remembered from your training sessions. Speed is of the essence, so this works best with short and sharp questions, and answers provided in writing or multiple choice (provided they can complete each question quickly). This method not only tests retention, it reinforces it by asking the participants to recall what they’ve learned. This goes beyond the evidence collection demanded by qualifications. It’s short and sharp and adds to the knowledge students are attaining for their certificate, while pressuring your training team to up their game, ensuring that the key messages from their sessions can be recalled.
The best time to send retention quizzes depends on how well the students demonstrated their learning in class. If they were superstars, it takes longer for the key messages to be forgotten, so you can wait longer before sending the quiz. On the contrary, if most students struggled and had trouble demonstrating their understanding, you’ll want to send the quizzes sooner.
Asking participants whether they’ll use their new knowledge in the workplace is pointless on the post-training student survey. They haven’t started the job yet—how could they possibly know? This question is better placed after they’re in the role, when they’ll have a better idea of how well their training prepared them.
You might ask: “What are you using in your daily work that you gained from the training? Give at least 3 examples.” This self-reflection is a great way to close the gap between the learning itself, and the change you’re aiming for in the workplace. This valuable data can tell you the real impact of your training program, with surprising results.
70% of us regularly watch video—more than ever before. Video in an effective way for the facilitator to reiterate key messages and commitments from the group. No-one is expecting high end production, just natural, authentic and relatable content. It’s time to get creative!
When training is over and the students are settling into new roles, sending this kind of video and asking whether they’re fulfilling their commitments can be a potent way to discover what’s really happening, where it matters, in the working environment.
Let’s be brave and bold! It’s time to change our perception of student feedback, and realise that if we ask the right questions on the post-training student survey, it can be invaluable for both the student and the training organisation.
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