Training Industry Magazine - March/April 2017 - 48

MEASURING
I M P A C T

THE KEY TO
QUALITY COMMENTS
I S ASK ING THE R I G H T QU E ST I ON S
BY DR. REANNA PONCHERI HARMAN

Anyone who has participated in a training
event is familiar with open-ended survey items
like this one: "Please provide any additional
comments you have about the training program
you just completed."
After getting into the rhythm of clicking bubble
after bubble in response to closed-ended survey
items, many trainees come to a roadblock when
provided with a blank box of space and asked
to provide feedback in their own words. While
trainees tend to complete all or most of the
closed-ended items on organizational surveys,
the same is not true for open-ended items. A
recently published series of studies investigated
responses to open-ended comments on training
evaluation surveys and found that 28 to 53
percent of trainees provided a response to openended items.
Reaction measures are widely used in the
training industry for evaluation and are typically
measured on surveys that include both closedended items and open-ended items. But, why are
there less responses to open-ended items and
what are the practical implications?
At the annual meeting of the Society for Industrial
and Organizational Psychology in 2007, Poncheri
and Thompson presented a study that openended items are viewed as less important than
closed-ended items on web-based surveys.
Additionally, open-ended items carry a higher
response burden for trainees when compared to
closed-ended items because it takes more effort

| 48

for the trainee to respond. If trainees think that
providing comments is not important or that it
takes a lot of effort to respond, the combination
could be enough to discourage response.
Despite what trainees may perceive, training
managers and other decision makers highly
value input provided in response to open-ended
items because the comments are in the trainees'
own words. Comments are very rich and can be
very powerful. Even a highly negative, critical
comment may sway a decision-maker to cancel
or make significant changes to a program, while
highly positive comments can provide value to
market training or justify additional investment.
Because of their value, comments should be
interpreted with care. Research shows that
comments are negative in tone and that
dissatisfied trainees tend to provide comments.
Comments most likely do not represent the
opinions of all trainees, but may reflect input
from the most dissatisfied trainees. Training
managers who read comments should interpret
them appropriately as they may only be hearing
from the dissatisfied trainees.
Knowing how to get the most out of comments
can provide key strategic advantages
for organizations if used and interpreted
appropriately. Here are four evidence-based tips
for training managers and other key decisionmakers to improve training survey practices and
to better leverage the feedback provided.


http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/apl/100/3/894/ http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1094428106295504

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Training Industry Magazine - March/April 2017

https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20201112
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20200910
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20200708
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20200506
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20200304
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20200102
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20191112
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20190910
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20190708
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20190506
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20190304
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20190102
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20181112
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20180910
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20180708
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20180506
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20180304
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20180102
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20171112
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20170910
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20170708
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20170506
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20170304
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20171112_se
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20161112
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2016fall
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2016summer
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2016sales
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2016spring
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2016winter
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2015outsourcing
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2015fall
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2015summer
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2015leadership
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2015spring
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2015winter
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2014fall
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2014summer
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2014spring
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2014winter
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2013fall
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2013summer
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2013spring
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2013winter
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2012fall
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2012summer
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2012spring
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2012winter
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2011fall
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2011summer
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2011spring
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2011winter
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2010fall
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2010summer
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2010spring
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2010winter
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2009fall
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2009summer
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2009spring
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2009winter
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2008fall
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2008summer
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