Here's how to make sure your instructors deliver training courses the way they should - and how to identify instructor success factors in the process.
Imagine that your job is to ensure that a basic safety course is taught in a consistent, high-quality manner. You don't want an instructor reducing your well-crafted, six-hour course to a one-hour, hit-the-highlights version, with the shop phone ringing in the background and people wandering in and out. What you need is a good system for evaluating your instructors. You want a system that reflects your unique situation and is easy to administer.
When confronted recently with that task, I discovered quickly that I was blazing my own trail. I found a lot of forms designed to gauge participants' reactions to course content but nothing to evaluate an instructor's preparation and delivery from start to finish of a standardized course. So, here's a road map of the process I used - minus the detours.
Creating the form
Keep end users in mind. The Law of Incompatibility states that whoever creates the original document will experience an irresistible urge to use the least compatible software known. In fact, the best software to design forms is probably not familiar to the people who will be using the forms. So, find out what kinds of software your end users have and then create your form with the most hassle-free format for them. You may end up using a word-processing program to do desktop publishing, which can be a bit like trying to pound a nail with a golf club. But, in the long run, it's better than using a whiz-bang, page-layout program that nobody can access when you're done.
Consider the function. Take a minute to think about what happens in the instructor evaluation process: scheduling evaluations, communicating with evaluators and instructors, collecting and organizing completed evaluation forms, and maintaining a database. What information will you need on the evaluation form for that process to go smoothly? Your list should include the name of the instructor and course being taught, the course date, and instructions for faxing the form after each evaluation.
It's critical to incorporate design details as early as possible - such as whether you want a one-inch left margin. If you realize later that you have to increase the margins after you've just figured out how to get everything onto one page, you'll want to scream. If you're not detail-oriented, be sure and get input from someone who is. Detail hounds tend to come up with such suggestions as, "Gee, don't you think we should put the telephone number on here someplace?" Obvious, yes, but often overlooked.
Create the content. Create a list of "instructor success" factors. Gather any material you have that refers to things an instructor is supposed to do. Chances are you'll find bits and pieces of instructor-related guidelines in train-the-trainer manuals, participants' evaluation forms, hiring criteria, and various regulations such as "program must be eight hours in length." Sort and organize the factors you find.
Next, think of the best instructors you've worked with. What did they do that made the training successful? Here are some examples to put on your list of instructor success factors:
* sets up the training room at least a half-hour early
* speaks clearly and is pleasant to listen to
* uses helpful props and visual aids that are large enough to see
* has training materials neatly organized
* asks questions that encourage responses and reflective thinking
* informs participants of upcoming training events
* cleans up after the training session
* turns in legible and accurate paperwork.
Remember that an evaluation form not only describes behaviors, but also influences and shapes what instructors do. You want to be sure that you underscore the necessary strategies for the success of your training, with details that will ease the administration of the program. …