Rethink how we measure learning impact

The purpose with the measurement of learning impact broadly has two points of departure. On the one hand there is the approach that attempts to determine to what degree development processes and programs have some demonstrable “value”. The typical and well known approaches of Kirkpatrick and Philips are examples of this approach, both of which at some point in their models move to the second approach, which is to move the focus away from development per se and towards the actual business benefits realised.


A key consideration in rethinking how we measure learning solutions is creating an awareness with participants when learning has actually occurred – especially with a current predominant mindset that learning only happens if I received credits towards a qualification.  What we  see is new and emerging approaches in learning and development that focuses predominantly in what is traditionally known as informal development. While this in no way suggests that informal development is necessarily unplanned – learning will happen outside of the “control” of the “Training Department”. So the question is how do we find ways and means  to collect or record learning experiences that matters and often happens outside of a formal classroom setting. Reflective practices are good tools for individual realisation of learning that has occurred, but doesn’t necessarily apply to learning that has happened within natural intact teams or even across teams.


It also doesn’t necessarily help the organisation to keep record only of learning that is sharable, trackable and quantifiable. We think that what is required is a rethink of how we view the measurement of learning and development from different perspectives. We have suggestions on some of the key principles that should inform the measurement of development processes and interventions:

  • Keep the measurement model as simple as possible;
  • The measurement model should include perspectives on all the key elements of development – both formal and informal;
  • The model should include both quantitative and qualitative measures; and
  • Measurement should also drive personal ownership by participants.


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