Imagine my surprise when I recently read a long-established training vendor’s new press release.  Omitting the organization’s name, I’m going to quote from the release:

“(Company X) conducted a survey of its clients to determine the effectiveness of online training.  Comparing over 100,000 pre- and post-test scores, (Company X) found that clients using (Company X’s) courses significantly increased their trainees’ technical and safety knowledge.

 After reviewing the tests results from a large population of trainees, (Company X) can demonstrate a 30% increase in technical skills knowledge when comparing pre-test to post-test scores.”

What an empty claim!  Ridiculous!  And, in the 1980s, one made by most training vendors regarding the videotapes they then hawked — before the customers figured out the vacuousness of such claims.

Think about the meaninglessness of these results for a minute. 

The only true measure of one’s training program depends upon an increase in the trainee’s on-the-job performance — which translates into learning retention and increased skills.

Short-term improvement, as measured by “immediate testing” (pre-and post-test score differential) means next to nothing. 

Just remember your own experience in high school and college classrooms.  You studied late at night to pass a test and then, within days or weeks, you forgot much of what you had temporarily learned.  You had experienced short-term retention but your longer-term retention was impacted very little.

The truth is that every vendor of training programs can make the same claim as Company X.  All of them can demonstrate a marked increase in test scores between the pre-test and the post-test.  No vendor has an advantage with that measurement tool.

You should be looking at longer-term retention which can be measured if you re-administer the post-test six months, or more, after the initial training.  Combined with the even-more-important evaluation given by the trainee’s supervisor are the better ways for you to measure the effectiveness of your training initiatives.

So, forget comparing pre- and post-test scores.  They matter little.  It’s finding a longer-term retention measurement that will prove the worthiness of your training.

More on Wednesday  –  –  –

  — Bill Walton, co-Founder, ITC Learning

        November 6, 2017  (Mondays & Wednesdays)



(This is a personal blog.  Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner,, an independent consultant.  They do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in a professional or personal capacity.)