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Evaluating the Impact of your Learning

| 3 Min Read

Is your learning reaching the goals that have been set for it? This simple, but often tricky question is one that is absolutely essential to answer, underpinning the lasting success of your programs. Whether you're an educator striving to enhance student outcomes, a learning manager seeking to bolster organisational performance or a designer tasked with crafting impactful learning experiences, the ability to measure and evaluate the effectiveness of your initiatives will give you the information you need to effectively analyse, optimise and improve the performance of your learning.

In this article, we’ll look at various methods you can use to determine whether your learning programs align with your objectives, identify areas for improvement, and make informed decisions to optimise learning outcomes.

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Starting Out Right - Define Your Objectives

Before you can measure or evaluate the success of a program, you first need to clearly define exactly what success will look like. Whether as a higher education provider shaping curricula or an organisation crafting internal training initiatives, setting precise objectives is vital. 

Clear objectives serve as benchmarks against which you can measure the effectiveness of your learning interventions. They also help enable participantss to gauge the relevance of the course and understand their own criteria for success (i.e. what’s in it for me?).

Defining these objectives should be a foundational component of course development; when you are setting out to build your course, take some time to consider the objectives you have for the course and the ways in which those objectives will contribute to your organisation’s wider strategy or goals. With a clear view of the outcomes you hope to achieve, you will have clearer alignment on which elements of your course to measure, evaluate and improve.

Gather Learner Reactions

Arguably, the best source of information on your learning is from the people who have undertaken the course themselves. Obtaining immediate reflections from learners prior, during and at completion of the course, gives you a clear view of the learning experience and how well it is functioning for its participants, lets you surface any friction points learners might be encountering and provides insight into the elements of the learning that participants found the most useful.

Customer satisfaction surveys and Net Promoter Scores (NPS) are effective tools for soliciting feedback. Satisfaction surveys offer a broad perspective on the overall learning experience, while a Net Promoter Score is focused on how likely your learners are to recommend the course to others. Both methods can have applications, depending on the nature of your course, and both reveal actionable data that helps you to identify how well your course is meeting the needs of your learners.  These mechanisms also help inform ways to improve the overall learning experience moving forward.

Formal Skill Assessment

Formal skills assessment is a part of many courses, evaluating learners' proficiency against predefined standards or rubrics. The outcomes of a program’s skills assessments not only show how each individual learner has developed as a result of their course, but can also be used to determine how well that course is performing in terms of building the skills and competencies it is designed to deliver.

Note that when designing the rubrics and skills assessments that will determine the performance of both your learners and your learning, it is important to ensure that the skills being evaluated are correctly aligned with the desired real-world outcomes or objectives determined when developing your course. When these aspects are in alignment, a course’s formal skills assessment can provide a clear view of your learning’s overall effectiveness in building skills and optimising the transfer into practice.

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Track Engagement Over Time

The ways that participants are interacting with your learning provide valuable insights into how effective, engaging and relevant to your participants' needs your learning programs are. Analysing data from your learning platforms on when, where and how your learners are engaging with their learning can highlight areas of higher dropout rates or persistent sticking points. Through identifying these friction points, educators and learning managers can identify areas that can be optimised to increase clarity, or that may need to be supported with additional content in order to ensure that learners are fully engaged with their learning and getting the maximum benefit from their course.

Performance Assessment

Above all, the number one outcome from learning should be a clear and identifiable impact on the real-world performance of the learner. Where the formal skills assessment of your course measures whether your learners have gained the skills and proficiencies that the learning is designed to impart, a performance assessment determines whether those skills and proficiencies are being applied effectively in the real world. 

Pre-and post learning confidence ratings can be used to allow participants to self-assess their own abilities and/or confidence levels, letting you see the impact of your learning on participants and help them self-reflect on their growth. As participants return to their roles, soliciting feedback from all parties engaged in the learning process, including peers and managers, allows you to gather a holistic perspective on exactly how the learning is impacting the participants' performance and the environment surrounding them. Similarly, ongoing performance evaluations track the translation of learning into tangible outcomes within the workplace. When learning objectives are aligned with organisational Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), performance assessments allow you to quantify the contribution of learning initiatives in driving results and outcomes within the workplace.


Evaluating the impact of your learning programs is an endeavour that spans the entire learning journey and beyond. From defining clear objectives to tracking engagement and assessing performance, each step contributes to a comprehensive understanding of your learning’s impact and builds a clearer picture of how your learning can be continually optimised to ensure that it is meeting the needs of your participants and your organisation.