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Five things you need to do to capture the impact of training as a pathway to impact

Training is a common pathway to impact for many of us. There were 92 impact case studies that used training courses to generate impact in REF2014. This included courses for teachers, clinicians and the police giving them new skills to deliver public benefits. Training is a potentially powerful pathway to impact because you often get people from a range of organisations and countries, who are able to go back to their teams to apply what they learned and teach others, sometimes giving you very significant reach. However the significance of what you have done is hard to measure in a feedback form at the end of the session, so you will need to think about what questions you ask and how you make it possible, GDPR compliant, to follow up with them afterwards to find out how they put what they learned into practice, and how they and others benefited. Here are five things you can do to increase the likelihood that you capture the impact of your training:

  1. Ask questions about benefits likely to arise at the time of training, including capacity, changes in understanding, attitudinal change and new skills

  2. Get people to form an intent e.g. one thing you want to put into practice from today’s training

  3. Incentivise people to provide their email, allowing you to follow up with further questions later, so you can get back in touch to identify other forms of impact that are more likely to arise after the training

  4. If possible, incentivise people to sign up to your newsletter (e.g. via post-training support/course via GDPR compliant tick box on form) so you can add value between the training and your survey, to increase your response rate

  5. Follow up:

  • After the training, put the emails into a newsletter engine, with a delay, so a few months after attending the course they get a survey asking how they put the course into practice

  • To write a good survey, do some interviews first to find out the range of benefits people typically get after the course, and make sure there are open questions so you don’t miss things you’re not specifically looking for. See the survey I send to people I train via Fast Track Impact here

  • Include a tick box at the end of the survey to give you the opportunity to follow up with phone interviews with a few of them so you can go deeper if necessary

  • If working with a small enough cohort, you may also want to follow up individually via email to find out if they did the thing they said they would do in the feedback form (see point 2 above re: intent) - if not, why not and can you help? Keep track of the barriers and build them into your training, explaining how you can overcome them in advance for future cohorts. If they managed to achieve what they intended to do, find out what the benefits were to collect evidence of impact

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