Training Industry Magazine - September/October 2018 - 36

L&D Stakeholders Should Answer to Improve Learning
By Dr. Eric A. Surface & Dr. Kurt Kraiger

During recent conference presentations
and webinars focused on analytics,
big data and evaluation, we noticed
audience members asking, "What
questions should I be asking [and
answering with evaluation data and
analytics]?" Speakers typically answer
these questions one of two ways: either
by recommending collecting specific
types or "levels" of data (e.g., business
impact), as if all relevant questions for
all learning and development (L&D)
stakeholders (learners, co-workers,
managers, C-suite executives, etc.)
should be immediately identified
and addressed; or by recommending
collecting and tagging as much data as
possible so the data analysts figure it
out, as if the important questions will
only emerge from analyzing all the data
after the fact.
Both perspectives can be made to work,
but neither completely satisfies. Both
advise by emphasizing answers (i.e.,
collect these specific answers or collect
all the possible answers) from overactively asking questions to guide and
tailor evaluation. Neither provides L&D
stakeholders with much agency in the
evaluation process. Neither identifies
how L&D stakeholders can ask questions
that, when answered through the
evaluation process, provide relevant,
actionable and timely insights they need
to do their jobs well and have an impact.

"The answers you have are only as good as the
questions you've asked." - Rebecca Trotter

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We need a better approach to address
the question. One that empowers all
L&D stakeholders to engage in and
tailor the evaluation process. One that
empowers all L&D stakeholders to act
on relevant data to make a difference.
L&D evaluation and analytics should
focus on building value with data.
We need to ask meaningful questions
to guide evaluation planning and
practice so each stakeholder gets
relevant, actionable insights, at the
right time, to act and create value.
We believe effective evaluation and
value creation depend on asking and
answering two fundamental types of
questions. These questions align each
stakeholder's actions with their roles


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