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How To Ensure Long-Term Outcomes From Training

As budget constraints increase in the field of corrections and human services, there is additional pressure to get the most out of the training that organizations are able to bring on. Any investment in training brings with it an inherent risk – will the newly-trained innovation be not only learned, but practiced, implemented and ultimately have a tangible effect on outcomes (e.g. calculable reduction in recidivism)? Or, will the training investment sit idly in the “paper level implementation” stage where it’s been documented on paper that the training happened, but there are no ongoing measures to assess what takes place as a result of the training moving forward (i.e. dollars wasted).

Below are five stages to consider regarding “Transfer of Training.” You can implement and watch for these to ensure that your trainings have long-term impact on outcomes for your organization. These five post-training stages come from research based in Everett Rogers’ work on Transfer of Innovation. They are incredibly helpful points for you to consider whether you are the trainer, training organizer or the one being trained…

Transfer of Training: 5 Key Stages

1) Measure attitude and skills: Are the participants from the training sufficiently engaged by the innovation that their attitude is now more open and receptive to it? Has ability with the most basic skills increased? These observations are best assessed with pre and post training measures immediately before and after the training. Front-load the training to ensure that it addresses these questions. An increase in these factors alone isn’t enough to guarantee transfer of training, but it’s a good sign.

2) Post-training enrichment: Without follow-up on skills that were demonstrated in the training, usually there is a quick and certain decay in those skills. However if some form of enrichment takes place, skills are likely to deepen rather than decay, and ideally there will be a significant shift in skill level as a result. Some possible forms of enrichment to put into place- booster training sessions, clinical supervision, post-training coaching and feedback, learning teams or communities of practice, etc.

3) Thresholds of Proficiency: As true post-training skill refinement takes place, participants not only experience a significant shift in skill level, they eventually reach measurable levels of proficiency in the new skill innovation. Identify a way to assess for proficiency, so that you can identify when your project begins to hit this stage.

4) Client behavior changes: As practitioners reach thresholds of proficiency, usually almost concurrently you will notice client behavior beginning to change significantly as well, in response to the changes in practitioner practice. For instance, motivational interviewing clients will begin to offer more change talk or in the case of a business, there might be more positive reviews from customers or more sales. What measures will you have in place to assess for this stage?

5) Desired outcome obtained: You begin to see a different outcome in terms of the desired outcome. For instance, reduction of recidivism, reduction of substance abuse, increased grade retention, etc.

An awareness of these five stages empowers you to design your training implementation to foster them to happen. Keep the five stages in mind and pinpoint which of the five stages you need measures for, which you really need to monitor and who’s going to be responsible for that and how.

As always, if you have questions or thoughts as you use these ideas to help develop your own training, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us and ask for input or brainstorming.

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