Manufacturing Training: From Learning Objectives to Assessments

Manufacturing Training: From Learning Objectives to Assessments

Hello friends in manufacturing training & performance improvement! We’re back with another installment in our ongoing “Manufacturing Training Insights” series of articles, designed to help you create better, more effective, more impactful training for manufacturing workers. By implementing the tips in this article series, you should see improvements in employee knowledge retention and skill development as well as see your manufacturing training align with, support, and help your organization reach its business goals.

As a refresher, our Manufacturing Training Insights series is largely based in the ADDIE training development model (although you’re certainly free to use other models). We began with an article on the Training Needs Analysis and then moved on to an article on Learning Objectives for Manufacturing Training.

In this article, we’ll discuss using those learning objectives to create assessments to gauge the knowledge and skill levels of employees after training (you might know of this as a “level 2 assessment” in the Kirkpatrick training evaluation model).

Before you begin (or perhaps after you finish reading this article), you may also enjoy our articles on effective manufacturing training and tips for selecting online manufacturing training.

Quick Reminder: Learning Objectives for Manufacturing Training

As we explained in more detail in our earlier article on learning objectives, a learning objective is an observable, measurable performance you want workers to be able to do when the manufacturing training session is complete (and that presumably they couldn’t do before the training session—let’s not be wasting people’s time and patience here).

In short, learning objectives are the very reason you’re creating and delivering the manufacturing training.

Your learning objectives will be useful for a variety of reasons, including:

  1. You can/should use them to keep yourself on track when you’re developing the training content. You want to include training content and activities that will be sufficient to help employees master the learning objectives and including nothing else (no, “bonus” content doesn’t help but instead it risks creating distractions and cognitive dissonance and decreasing the effectiveness of your manufacturing training.
  2. Understanding the learning objective that employees must perform after training may help you select the most appropriate training delivery methods and learning activities for your training session/program. Read more about this in our different training methods for different training outcomes article.
  3. Knowing your learning objectives will provide a roadmap you can use for creating your learning assessments (the topic of this article). Basically, you just map assessments directly to your learning objectives and you’re done. That’s the topic of this article.
  4. Presenting the learning objectives to your learners will help them see how the training is relevant to them (one of those all-important adult learning principles!), focus on key content during the training session, and reflect to self-assess their learning progress in terms of satisfying the learning objectives during and after the training session.

To learn more about all this, please check out our recorded discussion with the respected learning researcher Dr. Patti Shank discussing performance-based learning objectives.

When to Create Your Level-2 Learning Assessments (“Tests”)

Now that you know the relationship between learning objectives and learning assessments, let’s discuss when you should create learning assessments for your manufacturing training activities.

If you’re like many involved in training design and development, once you’ve created the learning objectives, you might be tempted to jump right into developing your training materials and activities.

However, learning designers recommend that you DON’T do that.

Instead, after you’ve created the learning objectives for your manufacturing training, why not write your learning assessments (the “test” at the end of the training) before you charge forward to create training materials and activities?

If you create your assessments immediately after you’ve written the learning objectives, this will help you in the following ways: 

  • You’ve got a better chance of keeping your assessments directly mapped to your learning objectives. 
  • You’re less likely to later add “fluff” materials or activities to the training materials once you’ve created the learning assessments (and you’re less likely to leave out critical training materials as well). 

So, even if it doesn’t seem entirely intuitive, after you’ve written your learning objectives, create your assessments before you move on to create the actual training materials. Go ahead, give it a shot!

Tips for Creating Assessments for Manufacturing Training 

The gold standard of training assessments is to have your assessment match what workers will need to do on the job as closely as possible. Meaning the assessment would ideally be the exact same job task/performance, performed in the same work area, using the same tools, and under the same work conditions. 

In some cases, that might not be possible. For example, the training may happen online or in a classroom instead of in the work area. That may be less-than-gold-standard, but it SHOULD work just fine, as long as the employee is performing the actual job task.

So in many cases, that will be some form of demonstration/performance from the employee (perhaps following a guided demonstration by the instructor and practice opportunities during the training session itself). In some other cases, however, you may be able to write good multiple-choice questions that require workers to make the kind of decisions they’d need to make on the job. We discuss this type of multiple-choice question in more detail in the interview below with Dr. Patti Shank about creating effective workplace learning assessments. 

Conclusion: Substantive Learning Assessments Are a Key Part of Effective Manufacturing Training

We hope you found this article on learning assessments helpful and a worthwhile addition to our series of articles on manufacturing/industrial training. Let us know if you have any questions and keep your eye out for the next article in this series.

Jeff Dalto, Senior Learning & Performance Improvement Manager
Jeff is a learning designer and performance improvement specialist with more than 20 years in learning and development, 15+ of which have been spent working in manufacturing, industrial, and architecture, engineering & construction training. Jeff has worked side-by-side with more than 50 companies as they implemented online training. Jeff is an advocate for using evidence-based training practices and is currently completing a Masters degree in Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning from Boise State University. He writes the Vector Solutions | Convergence Training blog and invites you to connect with him on LinkedIn.

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