As I have written before, I tend not to believe that much in traditional evaluation forms any more. The information you receive is to a large extent not usable for you as trainer or facilitator. For instance if it concerns issues you have no influence on like who is invited or able to come and who is not.
But what’s worse, providing the feedback is mostly not very useful for the participants. That in itself renders evaluations less useful – if there is nothing to gain from spending some brain space on answering evaluation questions in earnest I think it is fair to assume that most participants will just jot something down quickly in order to be off sooner rather than later.
If you can connect the evaluation to the participants’ feelings and to the steps they plan to take in future using the things they learned and developed during the training, you may have a better chance of getting quality feedback that they have actually spent some time on formulating.
In a recent training assignment I asked participants at the end of the training to take a picture of something that for them symbolised the most significant moment or insight of the training and to send this to me with one sentence of explanation. Here is what I got:
From these pictures and texts I conclude that
- the training was lively and participatory, which was much appreciated
- participants felt engaged in the team, as they all got tasks for steps to be taken after the training
- participants gained more insight into the topic of the training and jointly developed an image of what they want to achieve together
- participants felt hopeful because of the shared vision for the future
and thus that me and my co-trainer Gusztáv Nemes succeeded in creating a shared knowledge base on the topic (including new knowledge provided also by us), in supporting the group to use this knowledge as a basis for a common vision for the future, in mobilising the group to work as a team towards the shared goals and in creating an open atmosphere in which everyone could and did take part actively.
And so these simple statements and picture made me very happy about our performance – much more than a traditional happy sheet could have done, where I would have to guess what could be the reasons for the scores given.
But the main source of happiness was due to the fact that participants actually spent time looking around themselves and considering this and that item as a suitable symbol all the while thinking about what the main moment had been in the last two and a half days of work. Looking at the pictures sent, most participants selected a moment that connected the training to their future actions and work as a team. For me, those two things show the true value of this exercise.