Recently, I wrote about how the subject matter expert is most involved in the design phase of your training program when you are doing knowledge capture. But an expert can be helpful during all phases of your training program. Experts who are with you every step of the way add more to your program’s depth and richness, and contribute to the learners in ways beyond a mere “information dump”.
As part of your course design, you most likely have included evaluation of the material, perhaps using Kirkpatrick’s 4 Levels or some other validated evaluation process. As you get feedback on your course, make sure your expert is included in getting feedback from the evaluations so he or she knows what is working and where the course is not hitting the target. The expert can remain a valuable asset as you adjust the course in response to evaluations.
Here are a few ways your expert can participate in the types of evaluation based on The Kirkpatrick Model, with which most instructional designers are familiar.
· Level 1 Reaction: This measures learner satisfaction and “the degree to which participants find the training favorable, engaging and relevant to their jobs” to quote Kirkpatrick. Let your expert know if the learners enjoyed the content. This is particularly important if the SME also participated as a live classroom trainer. If they were rated as a trainer, share their scores with them.
· Level 2 Learning: This measures learner retention and “the degree to which participants acquire the intended knowledge, skills, attitudes, confidence and commitment based on their participation in the training” according to Kirkpatrick. Your expert may be best suited to determine if the learner gained the knowledge that the course set out to teach by reviewing the tests and assessments.
· Level 3 Behavior: This measures learner application on the job and “the degree to which participants apply what they learned during training when they are back on the job” Kirkpatrick says. Your expert may be one of the people, in collaboration with their direct supervisors, who can assess if learner performance reflects correct application of the material on the job.
· Level 4 Results: This measures if business goals are reached and “the degree to which targeted outcomes occur as a result of the training and the support and accountability package” according to Kirkpatrick. Depending on the view of the expert regarding the long-term strategic objectives of the business, the expert may be able to help assess if learner performance is supporting the business and the outcomes desired. If performance is not advancing business goals, some experts have strategic insight into how to adjust the content to support the business. In many cases, however, experts are focused on one particular area of the business and may not see the bigger picture. But it is a good idea to include your expert in this information and get their feedback anyway.
The important takeaway here is that when you employ experts, they are often valuable to your training, information collection and overall business goals in ways that may not be immediately obvious. Therefore, if you are engaging your subject matter expert in your training program, make every attempt to engage them during all phases of knowledge transfer.
Experts more often than not can contribute in ways that even they do not know. It’s your job as a trainer and instructional designer to make sure you are getting the most benefit from their experience.