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Myths of a Reaction Questionnaire

Updated: May 14

Dear Colleagues

Today I want to share my experience of the reaction questionnaire. Reaction questionnaire, very popular with the HR and L&D function. Most of us are in love with the reaction questionnaire, aren't we? I am sure most will agree.



So what are reaction questionnaires? They are the first hand feedback we get from participants post attending the training. Post training a feedback form is filled by the participants. Trainer and the training team are happy that participants have given a good feedback.  How the training department is going to capture the application of the training is overlooked. Neither the participants nor the training team is accountable to what happens next. For example, in one of the IT company, when participants attend an email writing training, they are not communicated how this training will impact customer satisfaction score. 

So we cover questions related to the venue, the food, the logistics, facilitator, material. We are very happy when we are graded 4 or 5 on a scale of 1 to 5 where 5 being very satisfied and 1 being not satisfied. Most of our reports are based on faith, work done rather than results achieved.

So we are thrilled. All our hard work to find the right vendor, right trainer, the venue all is a success. So what next? Who cares? We will be judged on the basis of the reaction questionnaire. Who cares if the participants go back and apply what they learnt. Who cares if we get the results. After all that is not in our KRA you see. And our company is not asking to calculate the ROI either. So what do we collect in a reaction questionnaire? We collect input data. This data, the CEO hardly wants.

Yes, training is a success we announce just on the basis of reaction questionnaire...where as the reality is very different. We declare training a success based on perceptive justification.

Myths & Reality of the reaction questionnaire

Myth 1: If participants are satisfied it implies that the training is successful Reality: If the participants are satisfied of the training, does not guarantee that they will apply the skills learnt, or reach an impact and hence give an ROI

Myth 2: It is enough to administer the same reaction questionnaire to all the programs Reality: When the training is different, how can the reaction questionnaires be the same?

Myth 3: People always rate fairly in a reaction questionnaire as nobody wants to be a bad guy Reality: The training is most of the times going to get a good feedback. After all L&D team puts lot of efforts to find a training vendor or the trainer. Then obviously the training has to be good. Have you ever set a quantified impact objective and then administered the reaction questionnaire. Try it and see, I challenge.

Myth 4: Reaction questionnaires need to be administered at the end of the training Reality: Ever tried administering the reaction questionnaire one hour before the training. Have you ever given the participants enough time to fill the questionnaire. After all who does not want to hurry home.

Myth 5: Reaction questionnaire is the only way to evaluate the training Reality: Try taking a correlation between the reaction, learning, application and impact levels. Every checked if there is a correlation between the reaction and the application.

Take up the challenge to work on how the reaction questionnaire could be different and how some predictive analysis can be done from the reaction questionnaire.

Best Wishes Sonali Wagle

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