Organize Indicators by Data Type

Indicators are the means for measuring what you need to know. Usually an indicator is an assessment, test, or scale of some kind. But indicators vary based on the type of data you need to collect. Typically, there are five types of data we collect for this type of program.

  1. REACTIONS – How people feel about something as or after it happens. usually a measure of this will be a survey or checklist. This is the easiest, and so the most often used method. But there is lots you need to know to improve a program that this method of measurement can NOT tell you.
    1. Were they pleased with what they got?
    2. Did it address what they expected and needed?
    3. Do they have suggestions for next time?   Etc.
  2. LEARNING – Typical indicators or measures for learning are short anser items like “what was your most important learning?”, self-assessments which allow checking or rating extent of learning on a list of what was taught, or a test which checks if the intended learning happened or not.
  3. BEHAVIOR – This evaluates or measures the extent to which what was learned has resulted in a change in practice. This is a very significant, but little used indicator. But it’s the only way to really measure the IMPACT of learning. Measuring behavior change can be a self-report, but that may not be too reliable. Typically it takes a pre training and then, a post training observation to determine if a practice has changed.
  4. NEEDS ASSESSMENT – Needs are obstacles to learning and change. Knowing a person’s needs is a critical preparation step, so that a training or mentoring can address who the learner really is and what they know or do not know. Knowing the needs and present level of participants is one of the biggest best practices there is. Needs should be assessed after an experience too. That will tell planners or trainers, or mentors what needs to happen next.
    >  Tools to measure needs are usually based on the research on needs of your participant group. However, after using these, you’ll see things that are not useful (delete them) and things that are missing (add those).
  5. RESULTS OR OUTCOMES – What is the ultimate reason for doing what your are? Does your program need to result in increased retention? Better performance?, increased skills and productivity? More leadership in your succession “pipeline”?  These kinds of measures assess if all the learning, behavior changes, meeting of needs, mentoring, etc. add up to the result you expect. Typically, measuring these factors requires longer-term data collection by tools that assess before (baseline) and after a period of time. Indicators for results depend on the program goals.
    1. Retention increase requires measurement of attrition and the factors related to it.
    2. Increased skills requires measuring skills against a set of competencies and by the degree of skill, often requiring a scale or rubric with stages or levels.
    3. Increased performance is similar to skill development measurment, but the words on the performance scales or rubric will be different.
    4. Increase implementation of learning in the daily work requires observation of changes in practice, assessment of obstacles and problems needing solutions, etc.

Each of these kinds of indicators or measures describe a range of different factors, but some can be used to collect information in several categories.

The point of sharing the information on this page now is that the process of organizing how you will measure or assess what you need to know by these five categories will help ensure that you use a good range of different methods, and different methods will give you a richer, more complete picture of what is and is not going on regarding your focus for inquiry.