State & Local Programs

Using Training Evaluations to Fine-Tune Your Program's WNTA-AM Frequency (Part Two)

So, still interested in how to fine-tune your program’s WNTA-AM (We Need Trained Advocates—Always Motivated) frequency? In my last article, I started outlining Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels of Evaluation: Reaction, Learning, Application and Results, focusing on levels one and two. This week’s article will focus on the last two levels, Application and Results, and will describe how all four are integrated to develop and strengthen your program’s WNTA-AM frequency.

Communication and Evaluation

In the last installment, I hinted at the importance of communication between the trainer and the volunteer coordinator. When considering the importance of this communication in levels three and four, “strongly encouraged” would be a more appropriate indication of the importance of this communication. Why? I don’t know about you, but I have never witnessed someone who completed training and needed no direction or support. Everyone has questions and needs assistance once they are appointed to a case.

If your trainer has evaluated your learners during training, then he or she has an idea of the type of support each learner needs in order to successfully develop the critical behaviors to complete the CASA/GAL role. By communicating with the trainer, the volunteer supervisor can develop drivers to help bolster the esteem and efforts of their volunteers (encourage); develop learning aids to help them on the case (reinforce); assist the volunteer coordinator in determining what types of additional trainings your volunteers need to support the ongoing effort (monitor); and determine the type and amount of recognition and reward their volunteers need to keep them motivated (reward). What learning aids do you provide to your volunteers, and how often have you evaluated your volunteers to determine your learning aids’ utilization and efficacy? Is your volunteer recognition a “one-size-fits-all” approach?

What is great about evaluating training is the information it provides both the trainer and volunteer coordinator. If you have done your evaluations during levels one and two, you know your learners. So if any learner fails to perform, and your level one and two evaluations indicated that learning took place and that the learner’s confidence and commitment were intact at the end of training, then you have some indication that the learner’s challenge in performing the role was not a training issue. Perhaps you are facing a supervision (monitor, reinforce, encourage, reward) issue which could be identified, addressed and adjusted through additional training and supervision.

A Brief Overview of Kirkpatrick’s Evaluation for Levels Three and Four

Level Three: This level focuses on four areas (motivation, reinforcement, reward and monitoring) and attempts to answer the question: Can the learner apply the concepts and practices that were presented in training? Evaluation is most effective if you have allowed the learners enough time to play the role. Individual or group interviewing, involving the volunteer coordinator and trainer, could be an informational and effective partnering activity to promote connection and accountability among the volunteer coordinator, volunteer and trainer. Monitoring work and continual skill observation are also level three evaluations methods as are surveying people your volunteer interacts with, conducting volunteer exit interviews and monitoring utilization of resources.

Level Four: The main theme for Level Four is “Begin with the end in mind.” Level four evaluations are easy to conduct if you have evaluated at the previous levels. Level four evaluations focus on results that support the achievement of the program’s strategic objectives: increasing the number of trained and retained volunteers and ultimately the number of children served. All of these business metrics rely on the program’s ability to identify critical behaviors necessary for volunteers to advocate effectively. Those identified behaviors were monitored, reinforced, rewarded and encouraged during level three evaluations; evaluated for confidence, commitment, knowledge and skill during level two evaluations; and, through learner-centered level one evaluation, evaluated to determine reactions regarding training’s relevance, engagement and customer satisfaction.

Finding the WNTA-AM Frequency

Locating the WNTA-AM frequency is not as difficult as keeping tuned to that frequency. Many times we fail to evaluate, don’t read the evaluations or don’t utilize the information obtained through evaluations, all of which could help you stay tuned to the WNTA-AM frequency. Staying tuned provides you with an opportunity to achieve your strategic objectives and, more important, fulfill your program’s mission to provide trained volunteers to effectively advocate for the children in your community.

If you need trained advocates always motivated, then find your frequency through evaluation and stay tuned in!

The US Department of Justice has supported CASA advocacy since 1985 through its Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
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