It is high time we started asking questions. With so much money being spent on aviation training, it makes sense that we should question whether or not the training we are receiving is effective and worth our while. Unfortunately, evaluation of training activities and Training Needs Assessments are rarely done. We want to give you 6 tips to make assessment a part of your training program.
Tip #1: Ask people for their input
In order for training to be effective, it needs to be meaningful. Studies on adult learning theory show that adults like to be in charge of their own learning. No one likes to feel as if training is being forced upon them. Therefore, training that is mandated or pre-programmed is fighting an uphill battle because it is initiated from an outside source. By taking time to ask your colleagues for their input and self-evaluation, you open the door for personal involvement. It shows people that you care about their training needs and sets the stage for a working environment built on trust and collaboration. Try asking a few short questions such as these to get the ball rolling:
- “What is one skill that you would like to learn or improve upon?”
- “Was this training activity worth your time? Why or why not?”
Tip #2: Look at the needs BEFORE you schedule the training
Looking at the needs of the individuals, the needs of the department, and the threats that exist are essential to establishing an effective training program. Without a Training Needs Assessment, training activities are often driven by mandates and regulations or become a facade for consumerism (purchasing whatever grabs our eye first). When you take time to assess needs and then tailor training to them, the activities become inherently applicable. There are many ways in which to assess needs. You can write a list of skills and have people rank them in order of training priority. You can ask open ended questions such as the ones listed above. You can list training activities that you are considering and ask people to assign a ranking and explain why they have a preference. You can review the threats found in your SMS and then have a departmental meeting to discuss how you can all train together for those threats. Again, the bottom line of importance in all of these options is to ask for input. People will be grateful for the opportunity to have a say in what they do with their time.
Tip #3: Make some goals
Once needs have been assessed, make some goals. Often these goals are called “objectives”. Objectives sound very academic but they are not all that difficult to write and really can have a practical nature. Simply think about what outcome you would like to see once the training is implemented. What would you like people to be able to do once the training is complete?
Tip #4: Always evaluate each training activity
So much money is spent on training activities, simulators, seminars, webinars, e-learning, multimedia packages and the like. It only seems logical to evaluate those dollars and to see if they really met your goals or lived up to the claims they advertised. It also makes sense to evaluate training on the individual level, to see if the people who received the training found it enjoyable, applicable, and meaningful. You can tie the assessment to the objectives you made in Tip #3. Did the activity meet the goal? If not, what could be done next time to improve? Even if a training activity fell short on expectation and outcome, it is only a waste if no one assess the shortcomings. As long as assessment is made, there is always a lesson learned: even if it is how to do it better the next time.
Tip #5: Take action on the input you received
Once you gather input, be sure to let people know that you are grateful for their time and thoughts. Ideally, you will be able to put those thoughts into action. However, if your budget or schedule won’t allow you to implement every idea, let people know that they were heard. Maybe you can implement ideas in stages or find something similar but more cost or time effective. The key is to appreciate the insight they have given.
Tip #6: Assessment should reach to the individualized level
This is a newer concept to many in the field of aviation. Yet, we believe strongly in the need to take assessment down to the individual level. After all, it is the individual who actually sits through the class, flies the sim or listens to the instructor. It is the individual who is held accountable for demonstrating mastery of the content or disciplined for lack of skill. The effects of standardization and education for the masses have left the individual out of the training process for too many years. We believe that allowing the individual a say in the process and honoring his/her input will inspire people to once again find training to be meaningful, applicable, and enjoyable.
We would love to have your assessment of these tips. We value your feedback. Did we hit the mark or fall short in an area or two. If we missed, feel free to share ideas on how we can do better. We are in this field of aviation together. Together, we can make a good assessment.