How to Successfully Evaluate Learning Outcomes for Online Courses
The evaluation of learning outcomes has always been an essential process for both learners and training professionals. A clear and well-defined evaluation is the best choice to show the effectiveness of your course, especially in eLearning. In this article, we will point out the basic factors to assess online learning outcomes for learners and course organizers.
The 4 level of learning outcomes evaluation
The Kirkpatrick Model is the worldwide standard for evaluating the effectiveness of training. It considers the value of any type of training, formal or informal, across four levels: Reaction, Learning, Behavior and Results. These 4 levels are applied before, during and after training to both maximize and demonstrate training’s value.
Level 1 – Reaction
In this level, you should define what participants thought and felt about your elearning course. Do they find it favorable, engaging, and relevant to their needs? Do they love the educational animations you show in the course? Are they satisfied with both the technical and the content? This can be well-tested through a form of survey right after a course/class ends. Hence, you can get the most honest, fresh feelings and opinions from learners.
Level 2 – Learning
The Learning level determines the increase in knowledge and/or skills, and change in attitudes which learners get from the learning program. This evaluation occurs during the course in the form of either a knowledge demonstration or a test. Thus, developing a connected system of tests is crucial to any instructional designers. As they will help the participants improve their learning outcomes and, at the same time, embrace the value of the course more clearly.
Level 3 – Behavior
Action speaks louder than words. The Behavior level is the step where we evaluate how learners apply what they have learned during training into reality. Behaviors are what makes the difference between a successful eLearning course and a flop. This is why you train, to adjust behaviors and actions in order to benefit your learners. Because behaviors are sometimes hard to measure, you may need to suggest and set some actionable goals for the participant after the course is over. Keeping a good contact with them, tracking how the behaviors have changed are the ideal ways to evaluate learning outcomes.
Level 4 – Results
In this last level, we will assess the final results that occurred because of attendance and participation in the online course. Try to measure it with a detailed data to prove the effectiveness of your course. For example, how many percentages of the participants solved their problem after the course? It often takes time to these results to be clear and realizable so the golden rule is to keep tracking with the learners as long as possible. They are the perfect examples for you to examine the outcomes of your online program.
Tips to successful evaluate learning outcomes
After showing a grasp of how the 4 levels of learning outcome evaluation work, we will provide you some tips to deliver a valid evaluation for your online course
Define solid learning objectives
What does your course claim to do for your learners? You have to be clear and specific about your learning goals. In the course introduction, a practical set of goals should be made for each of the 4 levels for both learners and you to assess and follow. These would also be a motivation for the learners to put more efforts and attention to the course.
Integrate the goals into the learning materials and activities
The purpose of your course is to archive these goals. Thus, try to combine these objectives into the learning materials and activities in the class. (e.g: the content of the educational animation, the game for a group discussion, etc). The continuous repetition of these targets has an awesome effect in triggering the learners to turn them into reality.
Ask learner to actively join in the evaluation process
Learners are the ones who know the outcome of your eLearning courses the best. They are the one who will make the behaviors and witness the results. Training experts not only need to ask them to join in a long-term outcome evaluation but also be open for any suggestion and renovation from learners.
In conclusion, learning outcome evaluation is essential for the success of any online courses. With a detailed 4 level-based evaluation including reaction, learning, behavior and results, training experts can determine thoroughly the effectiveness of the courses. At the same time, the course value is strongly proved with data and measurable results.
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