Often, team leaders may assess learning before and after a team building session, but they may neglect to check in with the team while they are the team building session. It’s very important to include this in your training plan, particularly since most training programs start with foundation concepts and build towards advanced concepts. If your team gets lost at the beginning, your entire team building program could be in jeopardy.
Reviewing Learning Objectives
At the beginning of the program, make sure you review the learning objectives of the course with the team. Give them the opportunity to give you feedback about the objectives:
Are all the objectives clear?
Is there anything that is missing?
Do the objectives seem reasonable?
Do participants understand how these learning points can translate back to the workplace?
During the team building program, check in with participants to make sure you’re still on track with the learning objectives. When participants are asked to perform evaluations, point out the ties back to the learning objectives.
Performing Hip-Pocket Assessments
During the team building session, check in with participants and evaluate them on reactionary and learning levels. Questions that you will want to ask include:
How does the team feel about the team building activities?
What has been the best thing about the team building so far? The worst thing?
What has the team learned?
What would the team still like to learn?
You may also want to ask specific questions about key content points.
Quizzes and Tests
Quizzes and tests are a good way to measure how much the team are learning during the team building session. Midpoint tests are good in many situations, including:
Workshops that have a lot of content
Workshops with difficult content
Topics that depend on each other
Don’t forget that a test doesn’t have to mean an hour-long exam. Try some of these fun ideas instead:
Divide participants into pairs or teams. Have them write quiz questions for each other. If the group is competitive, make it a tournament.
Place sheets of flip chart on the walls with key topic words. Assign a group to each sheet and have them review that topic. Or, have participants walk around and jot their own notes on the sheet, and review as a group.
Do you remember the picnic game from your childhood? Each person in the group would bring something to the picnic that started with a particular letter. The group would start with A and move through the alphabet. Play this game with your group, but choose a topic related to the workshop.
Play a game show like Jeopardy or Wheel of Fortune, with topics tied to your content.
Have participants sit in a circle. Toss a soft ball to a person and have them name one thing that they have learned so far. Have participants toss the ball around until everyone has spoken. Make sure to include yourself in the game!
Quizzes, questionnaires, and tests are great for evaluating many types of knowledge. However, you may need additional tools to evaluate changes in behavior, abilities, and attitude. Below is an introduction to some of the tools that can help you evaluate these types of learning.
Demonstrations: Demonstrations can be a very powerful teaching tool, particularly for complex tasks. One method is to demonstrate the desired task, and then have participants demonstrate it back to you. Or, place participants in groups or pairs and have them demonstrate the task to each other. Just monitor the activity to make sure that the information is correct.
Role Play: Role plays are often listed as participants’ least favorite part of a workshop, but they are very helpful when learning new behaviors. Conflict resolution, mediation, negotiation, communication, and training are just a few of the topics where role plays can be helpful.
To make the most of role plays, try these tips:
Give participants the option to take an active or inactive role.
Have clear instructions and roles.
Provide constructive feedback.
Provide tip sheets on the behavior to be role played.
Games: Games can provide a fun yet educational learning experience for participants. Make sure to practice the game ahead of time and make sure that it truly helps participants practice the skill that they are learning. And don’t forget – always have a backup plan.
Simulations: When they are well designed, simulations are excellent ways to assess how well a participant has learned a skill. They are particularly useful in situations where it is imperative that participants have excellent knowledge before going ahead with the real task, such as medical procedures or machine operation.
You can enhance the usefulness of these tools by adding a subjective rating system to them. For example, you could have a scorecard for demonstrations and role plays, or perhaps the simulator can provide a report on the user’s success and failure rates.