Peer Feedback Boosts Performance

Feedback and Performance

One powerful means for improving one’s performance and learning is getting feedback on his current performance in order to be able to act upon such feedback and improve his performance. During a training session it is crucial that the trainer provides useful and balanced feedback to trainees as he observes their performance as they go through various training activities completing numerous tasks. In addition to receiving feedback from the trainer, it is highly useful that a trainee receives feedback from his colleagues as well.

Mutual Benefit

When the trainer asks trainees to provide feedback to each other both the receiver and the provider of the feedback benefit a lot. The provider of the feedback gets a chance to carefully examine the performance of his partner and come up with conclusions in addition to communicating such conclusions to his partner. This makes him see clearly how good performance can be like and what to avoid. The trainee on the receiving end of course benefits from the feedback given to him by his partner in seeing his performance more clearly through the eyes of someone else which helps him further improve his performance next time he is carrying out a similar activity.

Positive Language

When providing feedback one has to be positive and use positive language. If the provider of feedback tries to show off his superiority by attempting to find all large and small mistakes in the performance of a trainee and expresses them in a strong negative language this may overwhelm the person receiving the feedback and totally shatter any kind of self confidence he might have had to the extent of disabling him completely from improving at all in the future in some cases. Feedback therefore must be balanced and the wording of the feedback itself should be all positive.

Graphic Facilitation

During a graphic facilitation workshop I had attended, the trainers asked participants to pair up and provide one another with feedback about their drawings. We were asked to first list 3 positive aspects of the drawings then after that mention 3 improvements that can be made. We notice here that one should always start first with the positive when providing feedback. Even when the time comes for pointing out the negative this should be done using positive words such as labeling them as “suggested improvements” rather than “mistakes” or “negative points.” Such feedback that uses all positive language not only informs the feedback receiver but also boosts his self confidence and enables him to drastically improve his performance.

Training of Trainers

When delivering training of trainers (TOT) workshops I ask participants to first list the positive points they see in demos of their colleagues then suggest improvements after that. Sometimes if the main aim is to boost trainee confidence one can ask for positive feedback only and prohibit any feedback on negative points for the time being.

Conclusion

Although receiving feedback from the trainer can be highly useful yet having trainees exchange feedback can be more so. Peer feedback also allows lots of feedback to be provided simultaneously in a short period of time in the case of pairing trainees with one another or dividing them into groups.

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The Training Evaluation Form

Function

At the end of the final training session in a training program it is essential to distribute evaluation forms on trainees and ask them to fill the forms out. Although such training evaluation forms might not ultimately provide an accurate measurement of the effectiveness and value of the training program yet they do indeed provide an indicator of how participants feel about the training. The feedback provided by participants in the training evaluation form can also be a rich source of information for the trainer providing him with insights about how to improve the training program next time he delivers it and clues on how to improve his training practice as a whole.

Sections

There are so many different ways to design a training evaluation form. Generally speaking, the training evaluation form is divided into several sections. One of the sections asks about the trainer and his competence. Another section asks about the training room, facilities and equipment. Further questions ask about the content of the training and materials provided. There can also be a question asking about the overall evaluation of the training as a whole. A further section can ask about the usefulness and practicality of the training and to how extent it can benefit the participant in his work.

Keep it Short and Simple

It is essential however to try and keep the training evaluation form short and as simple as possible in order not to overburden trainees at the end of the training program. A lengthy evaluation form could lead to participants just going through the question points one after the other checking each them rapidly without reading them carefully or taking the time to think and provide accurate answers for each question.

Open Ended Questions

In addition to the graded questions there can also be open ended questions that should be filled out with words written by participants. Examples of such questions can be: “State 3 main learning points you have gained during the training.” “What will you do differently at work after attending this training?” “What did you like most about this training program?” and “How can this training program be improved?”

5 Grades

As for the other graded questions it is best to provide 5 grades for each question. Providing more than that, let’s say 10 grades, could be detrimental and confusing to participants. Examples of graded questions within the previously mentioned section are: “The trainer was well prepared,” “The trainer answered participant questions,” “The depth of knowledge of the trainer,” “The trainer explained activities clearly,” “Quality of the visuals,” “Quality of the materials provided,” “The training room,” and “Time allotted for the training program.”

Analyze the Forms

The trainer should have a look at the evaluation forms and study them carefully to better understand how participants see and value the various elements of the training program. This would help the trainer improve his training every time he delivers training.

Conclusion

Although feedback forms or evaluation forms provided to trainees at the end of a training program are not considered on their own to be an accurate measure of the effectiveness of the training yet they do provide a good indicator of the quality of the training and can help the trainer improve his craft.

What are other examples of questions that are useful to include in training evaluation forms?

Trainer’s Self Feedback Notebook

The Self Feedback Notebook

If there is one thing that has continually improved my skill in delivering training it is the self feedback notebook. After completing each training course I sat down with a pen and my self feedback notebook trying to squeeze my brain and come up with any comments or discoveries I had for the training course I have just completed delivering.

I write my comments or feedback in the form of points after writing at the top of the page the name of the training course and the date. The process of writing down my comments and discoveries from the training course is mentally demanding and brain intensive.

Fresh Feedback

It is best to carry out this process right after the training course is complete preferably even on the same day when everything is still fresh in your mind. Waiting for a few days after the training course has been finished may make you forget and loose a lot of the valuable comments and lessons learnt during the training course.

Tagging

After completing the list of points I then go through them once again this time writing +ve or -ve next to each one of them to identify if it is something I did good during the training or something I should be changing.

Repeated Courses

Even if I am delivering the same training course once again but to a different group of trainees I made a new listing in the notebook for it with its own set of comment points.

Refreshing Memory

Before delivering a new training course I found it to be extremely useful to have a look in that self feedback notebook to refresh my memory on positive and negative things I had done while delivering previous training courses.

Condensing

I have later typed what was in my notebook on computer then grouped similar points together and condensed everything after analyzing all the self feedback points. This has become the backbone of my training of trainers course and the knowledge base for my training.

Sharing

Finally, sharing such knowledge that I had gained through the years with others completes the loop of learning for me and helps me improved even further.

Beyond Trainee Feedback

It is important to note that the self feedback points should not be confined to feedback you get from trainees in the +ve and -ve sheets but expanded to your own personal observations and discoveries as you deliver the training course. You can even write such self feedback points before looking at the feedback sheets from trainees.

Your Turn

Finally, I would like to advise you to start a self feedback notebook of your own and expend the needed effort it takes to write in it after each training course you deliver in order to keep developing and rising as a trainer in a continual upward spiral.

How do you keep record of your own performance during delivering training or of lessons and insights you have gained from the training process?

Collecting Trainee Feedback

Trainer Development

One of the best methods ever for a trainer to improve his or her skills in delivering training and to advance with time is to continually gather and analyze feedback from trainees then adjust his or her training practices accordingly. The importance of such an activity in the advancement of a trainer cannot be overstressed.

Simple Feedback

There are several ways to collect feedback from participants. One of the simplest and easiest, yet most effective, methods for collecting trainee feedback is one I learned from an instructor who had been delivering business courses to us. That was around one year prior to my starting on my training career. If I remember correctly, he also told us that he had learnt it from his instructor.

Procedure

The method is very simple. At the end of the last training session of a training program provide participants with two sheets of paper. Write “+ve” at the top of one sheet and “-ve” at the top of the other. Ask participants to write down their feedback about the training course in those two sheets of paper in the form of points.

Notes

If a trainee finds that what he wanted to say has already been written by a colleague he can just add a tick next to that point instead of writing that point again. Do not allow participants to discuss with one another what to write. Have each participant decide on his own what he should write.

Processing Feedback

After collecting such feedback from participants I used to go a step further by writing them down and condensing them in a notebook specially kept for such feedback.

What other interesting methods for collecting trainee feedback have you experienced?