Most L&D professionals have heard of surveys, of course. Market research professionals develop them to gather data in order to help companies make informed decisions about what to sell to the public. As a result, the buying public has taken tons of them. But the average L&D person probably hasn’t give a ton of thought to using surveys in their own work. If you have, you’re ahead of the game.
We’re continually told that we need to use more evaluation and measurement methods in our work as well. But data collected by the Learning and Performance Institute through their Capability Map shows the field doesn’t have very deep skills in this area. The first 6 month Capability Map report showed that, out of the 983 people who completed a self-assessment, only 319 assessed themselves against Data Interpretation and the average competency score was 2.36. Compared to 738 assessments in Face to Face delivery which had an average score of 3.36.
Typically the reason to use a survey is to get information to help with decision-making. What kinds of decisions do we need to make that a survey might help with? Here are a just few:
- What are the biggest skill gaps?
- How do they currently fill those gaps?
- What performance support tools do they build? Need?
- Who are their best internal team trainers?
- What instructional methods work best for them?
- How would they “grade” our efforts?
- What would we need to do to better serve their needs?
One of the problems with surveys, however is that that they look deceptively simple to build but it’s easy to write surveys that are poorly written, which means the data you gather is mostly useless. Poorly developed surveys yield poor data or worse, data that points to the wrong solutions. So it’s critical that surveys be developed and analyzed well. There are some great articles and books on the topic and it’s not rocket science. And once you know what you’re doing and if you use a survey tool that allows you to do good analysis, you can get some great data.
One of the chat2lrn facilitators, Patti Shank, wrote an article for CSTD on the topic, which recommends valuable articles and books on the topic, and provides some concise guidelines on good surveys. It’s on page 15 of http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.cstd.ca/resource/resmgr/clj/clj_spring2012_final.pdf.