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New checklist can tell you if employee training is effective

HOUSTON –Businesses, nonprofits and other organizations spend big on employee training each year, but how can they tell this preparation is actually working? Researchers at Rice University and the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) have created a checklist that can be used when developing, implementing and evaluating employee training programs. Checklist.

The checklist is the subject of a new article, “A checklist for facilitating training transfer in organizations,” published in the International Journal of Training and Development. It provides practical guidance for all stages of implementing training programs.

The authors developed the checklist by surveying scientific research on learning and organizational training, then figuring out the best ways to achieve “training transfer” — the translation of knowledge to skills for better performance.

“Training transfer is vital across all industries, but among health care organizations the stakes are arguably higher,” said Ashley Hughes, an assistant professor of biomedical and health information sciences at UIC.

“There is a science of training and, surprisingly, most organizations are not aware of it or ignore it,” said Eduardo Salas, chair of and professor in Rice University’s Department of Psychological Sciences. “This checklist is an attempt to translate the science into a practical tool.”

The checklist is divided into three sections of “yes” and “no” questions to be answered before, during and after employees undergo training.

The “before” section determines if the training program will meet the organization’s needs, asking questions like “Has the facility identified which employees will attend the training?” and “Are there policies and procedures in place to support training?”

The “during” section addresses the training’s content, asking questions like “Are trainees provided opportunities to actively participate during training?” and “Was the training developed using a valid training strategy and design?”

The “after” questions can be asked repeatedly, checking whether workers remember what they learned and determining if they need more help. Some of the questions in this section include “Are managers provided with tools and advice to support the use of learned knowledge and skills on the job?” and “Does the evaluation reveal that the training should be adapted?”

The researchers hope the checklist will help ensure that the knowledge, skills and attitudes learned in training actually improve job performance.

“We believe the checklist will eliminate unnecessary training, enable more motivated, engaged and effective staff and possibly serve as a gateway for cultural change within an organization,” Hughes said.