A Guide to Diagnostic Assessments

If you feel like you’re ready to create e-Learning training and launch it for your employees but you haven’t conducted any type of diagnostic assessment, it may be time to reconsider. A diagnostic assessment is imperative to designing training that’s targeted and effective, as well as strategic.

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What is a Diagnostic Assessment?

The first thing to understand is what is meant by a diagnostic assessment in terms of creating corporate training.

While it can be carried out in a variety of ways, it’s essentially a means for employers and training managers to understand how much employees currently know and where gaps may exist. These gaps may  be reflected not only in terms of training but also in business performance on a more holistic level.

Types of Diagnostic Assessments

The way you deliver a diagnostic assessment is going to vary based on any number of factors, from your employees’ backgrounds to your industry, but the primary types of assessments include:

  • Open-ended questions: This is a good way to really get a feel for where employees stand on certain topics or skills because you’re asking them for their opinion without restriction. This gives you a good idea of not only knowledge but also employees’ overall feelings towards a particular subject area. One creative way to implement open-ended diagnostic assessments is through the use of online journals. You can ask employees to journal on a regular basis or to create journal entries directly before and after training so you can get a feel for how they approached the training and then how they felt they learned from it. One potential downside of open-ended questions and journaling is that it’s difficult to get a specific and standardized read on skills and knowledge gaps so it’s often best used in conjunction with other types of diagnostic assessments.
  • Quizzes: Quizzes are a really simple, straightforward way to assess knowledge and gaps within your employees’ training. They’re also time-efficient and they’re a good way to standardize the diagnostic process. In many cases you may have employees take quizzes both before and after completing training so you can get a baseline and then see how training impacts the knowledge and skill level of employees.
  • Surveys: Along with quizzes, surveys are another good way to conduct a diagnostic assessment, but rather than testing knowledge a survey is often going to provide you with information about the preferences of your learners, so they’re a good tool to use alongside a quiz to build the best possible training.
  • Focus Groups: When we think focus groups we frequently think of in-person gatherings where marketers pick the brains of potential customers to learn more about their needs and wants. The idea is similar when you’re diagnosing your employees’ knowledge gaps. Focus groups can be conducted in-person and then used to develop e-Learning, or they can be done in an online setting either by video or a chat or discussion board forum.

Why Diagnostic Assessments are Beneficial

As mentioned, diagnostic assessments have one huge benefit: they let you target your training to the knowledge gaps of your employees. Rather than wasting your time and money and the time and efforts of your employees on unnecessary training, conducting a diagnostic assessment will allow you to gauge where training really needs to occur, paving the way for a greater return on your training investment.

Other benefits include:

  • Using diagnostic tools can allow you to create personalized and individualized training paths. One of the huge advantages of e-Learning as a corporate training tool is the ability organizations have to tailor training to the individual, and using diagnostic assessments is one important piece of that personalized puzzle.
  • Using assessments lets an organization measure the success and failings of not only employees but also a training program in general. You’re creating standards and metrics that are measurable and allow training to become more strategic. It’s also easier to create and maintain a business case for training programs when there are diagnostics in-place. Conducting diagnostics really lets you see a cost/benefit analysis of training.
  • Diagnostic assessments conducted during the training process allow you to not only get a generalized look at knowledge gaps, but they’re a good way to develop metrics for individual performance reviews. By referring back to this information training managers and organizational leaders have empirical information to use when building employee performance reviews.

Is your organization using diagnostic assessments as part of your overall training program? If so, let us know your preferred methods of delivering assessments and how they’ve improved not only your employee training results but also your overall business performance.

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