Evaluation is like framing pictures…

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Browsing Kenneth Fee’s blog recently reminded of a useful analogy for learning evaluation that I came across whilst researching my MSc.

The idea, put forward by Jane Holcomb,Holcomb, J. (1998) Training Evaluation Made Easy. London: Kogan Page. is that we should think about the picture framing process when considering how we might evaluate our learning programmes.

She suggests that we should think of the picture as the learning programme and the picture frame as the evaluation approach.  Many of the pictures will require frames, but the frames should probably not be identical but rather reflect the nature of the picture.  Inexpensive pictures may only require a very simple frame; more complex pictures may require a more elaborate frame to match.  It might be that some pictures don’t require any frame at all.

I think this analogy is helpful in acknowledging that as L&D professionals we do not necessarily need to search for one evaluation method that fits all our learning programmes.  Adopting a pick and mix approach, choosing the right evaluation technique for an individual, or family of learning programmes, might be a better way ahead.

I agree with Kenneth Fee, let’s understand the different evaluation models that are available and apply those elements that our relevant to our particular circumstances.  No one said this would be easy, if you’re waiting for a new model to come along that answers all the issues that are involved in evaluation then I suspect you’ll be waiting for another 50 years at least.

What do you think?  Do you believe a new ‘all-embracing’ model is the answer?  It would be great to hear your views in the comments below.

photo credit: milkmit via photopin cc

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