Evaluating the ROI from Learning: How to Develop Value‐based Training

Neil Currant (University of Bradford, Bradford, UK)

Industrial and Commercial Training

ISSN: 0019-7858

Article publication date: 1 October 2005




Currant, N. (2005), "Evaluating the ROI from Learning: How to Develop Value‐based Training", Industrial and Commercial Training, Vol. 37 No. 6, pp. 319-319. https://doi.org/10.1108/00197850510617613



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

This book is an essential aid for all trainers and particularly training managers in making sure that training is properly evaluated and fits in with the business needs of the organisation.

Paul Kearns espouses his belief that value is the critical aspect of evaluation and that all training must put a financial figure on its potential benefits in a world where having faith that training surely brings benefits is no longer good enough. Training needs to relate to the bottom line as much as any other part of the organisation and Kearns's ideas are about making that happen.

The author is acutely aware that some trainers may dislike his ideas so he sets out a clear argument that is certainly convincing and is likely to have you seeing things his way! The book is a blend of easy to understand theory mixed with practical, useful tools that put the theory into practice.

The book is divided into two parts. The first part, chapters 1 to 3, is about the underpinning theory of evaluation; where the author sets out his argument. The second part, chapters 4 to 7, deals with putting evaluation into practice.

In the first part, the author looks at the learning maturity scale, the training cycle, the learning cycle before moving on to critique Kirkpatrick's four‐stage evaluation model. Kearns changes the emphasis of Kirkpatrick's model to highlight the importance of ROI, value and how this fits in with level‐4 evaluation. He also adds a further stage, the baseline level; how are you going to evaluate the benefits of training if you don't know what your starting point is?

All of these ideas are then combined in the second part of the book to derive Kearns's eight‐stage “evaluation and learning system”. The book then moves on to the practicalities of measuring and using ROI, with some real life examples to help out. Particularly enlightening was the example of using ROI in the World Health Organisation. Kearns clearly demonstrates the power of ROI used properly to help guide the training strategy of the organisation.

The next chapter looks at some evaluation tools to help focus the training and the evaluation of the training. This is followed by the final chapter looking at the details of applying baseline evaluation on the main types of training such as induction training, management development and product knowledge training.

The book finishes with some of the most useful appendices that you'll find. Notable are Appendix 1 which answers twenty of the most common questions related to evaluation and Appendix 2 which provides a potted critique of the main proponents in the field of evaluation. Kearns is particularly scathing of Jack Phillips's and Hamblin's models but at least you've got the references to make your own judgements!

Overall, this is a highly practical book and a must read for all trainers.

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