A resource for safe and effective troubleshooting from the leaders in simulation training.

Hey Troubleshooters! Thanks for joining us again here on Troubleshooting Thursdays. We’re currently in the middle of a series of posts about training evaluation techniques and the things you absolutely need to consider when selecting a training solution.

We know this can be a tough process, especially if you’ve never done it before, so we want to give you some criteria and training evaluation techniques you can use to judge whether a training solution is worth the investment. (If you want to go back to the beginning to catch up, see Part 1 of the series: What to look for in a training solution.)

To recap, we isolated the top 11 training evaluation techniques and factors you need to consider when you’re mulling over this decision (see the full list here). We’ve already discussed 1) value; 2) opportunities for professional development; 3) ease of implementation and access; and 4) proven track record.

Today we’re going to talk about item number 5 on our list—completeness.

Top three “completeness” questions you need to ask

Last week we mentioned robustness of a solution, and that’s pretty close to what we mean by completeness. Essentially, you want to know if the solution is well thought out, thoroughly integrated, and exhaustive (in the good sense!)

To investigate the completeness of a potential solution, the top three questions we recommend you ask are:

  1. Does this solution progress participants?
  2. Does this solution offer opportunities for continual practice and improvement?
  3. Is the training universal, that is, are the skills that will be learned transferable to my company environment?

Let’s look at the reasons for asking each of these questions.

Training evaluation techniques: Participant progress

A complete training solution will progress participants through increasing levels of difficulty, beginning with the basics and building on skills as they are mastered. This may sound sort of obvious, but not all training programs do this well.

Basic concepts have to be learned and practised methodically in order to lay the foundation for more complex ones. Only when a student has shown they thoroughly grasp the basics should they progress to a new level of difficulty.

So, your training solution should include the capacity to ensure that a certain level of expertise is achieved before the trainee moves on. (A complete solution will make this as easy as possible for the administrator, providing online access to training data, test results, and assessments, etc.)

Once it’s clear they are ready, participants should move on to a more challenging exercise. The challenge is to keep the level of difficulty in the sweet spot—not too easy, not too hard, but always on the edge of the trainee’s ability.

Training evaluation techniques: Continual practice and improvement

Practice is a critical part of learning a new skill. Virtually all training solutions will provide practice exercises while the skill is being learned initially. However, after a while, without further reinforcement, students will begin to forget what they have learned.

A complete training solution will offer opportunities for continual practice. The more opportunities, the better. (That’s why Simutech Multimedia provides a bank of over 300 practice faults.) Students must be able to go back at regular intervals and perform maintenance practice to reinforce their knowledge and keep their new skills fresh.

The training solution will be even more effective if it uses the principles of deep practice, that is, mindful practice plus increasing challenge plus strategic feedback. Be sure to investigate what kind of strategic feedback is offered by the training solutions you’re investigating. Continuous, real-time feedback such as safety warnings, hints for making the process more efficient, tips on technique, and instructive responses to incorrect answers improve student learning.

Training evaluation techniques: Universal application

If you’re considering pre-existing training solutions, they must be directly applicable to your enterprise or there’s not much point. In other words, the skills they are teaching must be transferable to the work environment in your company. Investigate whether the skills they are teaching are really the ones that you need. (For example, the Simutech Training System teaches a methodical system for troubleshooting electrical faults that can be applied to nearly all equipment used in a wide variety of manufacturing sectors.)

A complete solution will use hands-on training or realistic simulation—the more realistic the simulation, the better. If the program is simulation-based, investigate whether it reflects the real-life work environment your trainees will encounter. It’s also very important to find out whether the program is built so that it allows for all potential actions a participant may take during the simulation, or whether it limits them to a narrow set of the most likely behaviors. The former takes a lot of behind the scenes programming, but is far better preparation for the real world. Finally, be sure to ask how advances in 3-D tech and augmented and virtual reality are being used to leverage authenticity of the simulated environment.

And that’s all for today, Troubleshooters! Tune in to Troubleshooting Thursdays next week when we look at item number 6—scalability.

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