About a month ago, I had the honor of presenting some of my material to a Sage business partner. In attendance (and speaking the next day), was one of my mentors, Howard Hansen of Healing Leaders. A few days later, I was given the opportunity to conduct and After Action Review with him. What follows is my best recollection of one portion of the conversation. (I knew I should have recorded it!)
Howard: Ed, I am going to give you some feedback that is specifically for you.
Ed: Great! (I was thinking that I was about to get the meaning of life!)
Howard: (after a pause of what seemed like a minute or more) Rethink your use of your evaluation form.
Ed: (Thinking, that’s it! Change my evaluation form! C’mon, really. Instead saying) Ok, super, thanks.
We then went on at length about it, and once again, I realized why I have selected such a fine mentor. Howard was dead-on right. My evaluation form was a problem. The evaluation was an exercise in ego. It was four questions that suggested the student to tell me who great the teacher was. Instead, the evaluation needed to be participant focused.
So without further bloviating (as Bill O’Reilly would say), here are the questions to ask on the best damn evaluation ever created.
- What did you hope to gain from your participation in this learning experience? What did you contribute to the dialogue?
- When were you the most anxious or fearful? Why?
- When were you the most inspired or ecstatic? Why?
- What did you learn about yourself?
That’s it. Don’t ask about the food, comfort of the chairs, or temperature of the room. If that is what is causing a person to not learn something they have a much larger problem. A successful learning experience is more about what the participants bring to the table than about what the instructor brings. Think about that the next time you attend training.
And, bring the above evaluation with you in case they are not using it.