Finding a Starting Point
As this long term training relationship was coming to a close, with the last training group finishing in July 2001, I began to consider how to develop an assessment procedure to evaluate the retention of learner skills. Initially, when I thought about the term, assessment, the notion of formal testing immediately leapt to mind. I was intrigued to see if there were other ways to think of assessment procedures. At the same time, I was concerned that the organization was more than ready to move on given that they had been involved in such a lengthy and costly training program. Since this was the case, concluding the program with the requisite handing out of certificates and shaking of hands would be a weak finish given that a four year training relationship had been established. All of the companys stakeholders program participants, other Irwin Seating Toronto employees, and the organization as a whole could become dissatisfied and perhaps disillusioned with the entire training experience if there were no assessment mechanism in place. It would be all too easy for those at Irwin Seating to ask, What was all that training for? To avoid this scenario, I believed it was critical, as a training provider, to address the issue of putting an assessment procedure in place to ensure post training customer care. With this in mind, action research methodology was implemented to investigate the following question:
Understanding the Situation
Data Collection Methods
In collecting data, I began by reviewing mid-program progress reports of all participants at all levels. I was particularly interested in how the courses had provided them with communication skills to become more involved in activities both within and outside the workplace and what opportunities they had to utilize their newly acquired skills. I wanted to investigate which skills the participants retained and in what ways these skills had been utilized. Since I wanted to evaluate the retention of skills, what better place to start than by finding out what the participants themselves had found to be useful and what methods they considered most valuable to retain those skills?
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