We’ve said it before: “Retention that translates into more productive on-the-job performance is the only valid measurement to use when evaluating your training initiatives!”

Yes, you must always keep mind that the only training initiatives that have positive impacts on an organization’s performance — and, future — are those programs that generate longer-term retention — and, immediately translate into increased productivity on the shop floor.

Yet almost every training courseware vendor refers to the wonderful statistics that trumpet the improvement made by the participants in their proprietary offerings. They claim that the post-test scores are considerably higher than the pre-test scores — so, obviously, the training solutions they are peddling really work.


Unfortunately for them — and for you — these post-test results prove little. A trainee’s ability to memorize answers and retain them for a short time (usually hours, at most) proves very little and definitely will not contribute positively to your organization’s performance.

No — short-term retention has little benefit.

What matters is longer-term retention — and, that is not measured by comparing a pre-test score with a post-test score that is administered immediately after completing the training.

Rather, you will get a more valid measurement if you administer a second post-test about six months after the initial training. Compare that result to both the pre-test and the first post-test scores. Only then will you get a better assessment of the training program you are offering.

As we all know, longer-term retention (as translated into better on-the-job performance) is the aim of effective training. So, ignore the vendor propaganda and find out for yourself.

Combined with a supervisor’s report, you’ll get a much better measurement of the effectiveness of your training initiatives. You’ll more accurately be able to determine what positive effect, if any, your trainees received from the training choices you provided them.

You’ll also discover that measuring longer term retention will keep you ahead of the game and allow you to make more intelligent investments in what you purchase — and, the initiatives you develop.

You’ll quickly realize that training initiatives rooted in full motion video have the most positive impact on increasing longer term retention.

Full motion video, showing real plant environments with real plant personnel working on real plant equipment, provides the learner with the best user-controlled way to acquire new skills. When full motion video is designed into a training program, studies show that participants increase understanding by more than 50%, resulting in greater learning gains. Participants also demonstrate 25 to 50% higher content retention (far and away, the most important goal of training), and 50-60% greater consistency in content understanding. Full motion video is the today’s cornerstone of learning!

Video-based e-Learning and CD-ROM instruction are your best choices. They are the clearest path to longer-term retention.

More on Tuesday – – –

— Bill Walton, Founder, ITC Learning (Tuesdays & Thursdays)