An Evaluation of Training in the Financial Services Industry

The Journal of Lending & Credit Risk Management, March 1998 | Go to article overview

An Evaluation of Training in the Financial Services Industry


ASTD's Financial Services Forum conducted a national survey of its membes to gather information on how organizations are evaluating training programs. This article describes the results of the survey and presents some specific examples of how member organizations are evaluating their training.

Few trends in financial services training among member institutions could be discerned from survey results tallied by the Financial Services Forum of the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD). Entitled "The Evaluation of Training," the survey was distributed to 1,174 Financial Services Forum members, with 105 returned for a response rate of nearly 9%. Approximately one-third of the respondent organizations have training budgets less than $250,000; another one-third have budgets of $250,000 to $1,000,000, and the final third have budgets exceeding $1,000,000. The total number of employees in each organization ranges from fewer than 250 to more than 10,000. The large majority of training functions in respondent organizations report to the human resources or administrative divisions of their organizations.

Specific input was solicited as to the various levels of evaluation responding organizations are using to judge the effectiveness of their training programs.

* Level 1 Evaluation was defined as measuring participant satisfaction.

* Level 2 Evaluation was defined as measuring changes in knowledge or skill level.

* Level 3 Evaluation was defined as measuring changes in on-the-job behavior.

* Level 4 Evaluation was defined as measuring changes in business impact variables.

* Level 5 as comparing a program's benefits to its cost.

Survey responses indicate that 104 respondents out of 105 use Level 1 evaluation, 80 use Level 2 Evaluation, 54 use Level 3 Evaluation, 36 use Level 4 Evaluation, and only 10 use Level 5 Evaluation. Presented below are details of the responses within each level of evaluation.

Level 1 Evaluation

Several predictable trends can be identified when summarizing responses from organizations using Level 1 Evaluation:

* The evaluation form is standardized.

* The evaluations focus on such areas as content, instructor proficiency, training methodologies, course materials, and overall course effectiveness.

* The basis of evaluation is a numerical or other type of quantifiable or easily measurable rating scale.

Several respondents identified Level 1 Evaluation forms as "smile sheets."

Level 2 Evaluation

For Level 2 Evaluation, testing is the primary evaluation tool. Organizations use testing very differently:

* Some use it only in certain classes.

* Some use pre- and post-tests.

* One mentioned using quizzes and a final exam.

Some of the responding organizations ask open-ended evaluation questions, such as, "How will you change your behavior as a result of this course?" or "As a result of training today, what did you learn?" Other organizations indicated that they use observation, role playing, and verbal discussions with managers of class participants. One organization described use of both a three and six-month telephone evaluation with participants.

Level 3 Evaluation

At Level 3 Evaluation, clear trends become difficult to identify as this level is used differently organizations. However, some issues were mentioned by more than one survey respondent:

* It would appear that Level 3 Evaluation is not used on a consistent basis for all training programs and is used on a very selected basis for some training programs. Some organizations are just starting to use Level 3, some rarely use Level 3, and some have used Level 3, but find that clients prefer to go on to other training projects rather than invest resources in this type of evaluation.

* When Level 3 Evaluation is employed, the methodologies used most often are surveys, interviews, or follow -up telephone calls. …

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