A descriptive study of training products and practice, using a field test of the Evaluation of External Training (EET) Tool : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Business Studies in Human Resource Management at Massey University

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Massey University
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The growth of the National Qualifications Framework since its inception in 1993 has seen a corresponding increase in training products entering the market as competition for the training and education dollar increases. What tools do public and private enterprise managers have, to differentiate between good and poor training products? The purpose of the present study is to design, implement and formatively evaluate a tool for assessing the quality of external training products. The tool would be piloted as a field test in the context of a prospective training purchaser evaluating a training product for possible purchase. Using "snowball" sampling, seven informants: five females and two males, provided training products of their choice for evaluation using the Evaluation of External Training (EET) Tool. Informants represented central and local government; small and medium sized private enterprises. The present study was divided into two distinct stages: a background interview and the evaluation interview. The background interview used the qualitative technique of a semi-structured, in-depth interview that allowed the informant to discuss a variety of topical issues without the constraint of predetermined answers. From the background interviews a typology of informants was developed; building on existing research by McMorland (1990). Informants in the present study were differentiated by training context: internal or external to the organisation; and employment type: primary or secondary. Using McMorland's typology three internal trainers were further differentiated to training manager, training coordinator and training consultant. Informants came to training indirectly from other careers where their talent for training was recognised; a lack of a first qualification in training has seen many seek qualifications to support their new career. A typology of informant issues was developed showing the competing demands placed on managers and trainers by the issues of resources and accountability. The fundamental resource issue for informants was time to develop employees to a standard; this was balanced against the managers desire for continuous production. The issue of accountability for informants was stark: accountability ended at the delivery of objectives; transfer of training to the workplace was seen as management's responsibility. The second stage of the present study was a field test of EET (Evaluation of External Training) to the informant's training product. Using a structured interview format all informants were asked to provide evidence of 18 training outputs provided under the four components of needs analysis, design, implementation and evaluation. Four of seven training products passed the threshold of 75% over the 18 outputs as quality training products. Three products that failed to reach the threshold shared similar deficiencies: poor needs analysis and evaluation outputs. These were outputs informants in the present study were not generally required to provide, or rewarded for providing. For the growth of training as a profession it is suggested trainers build relationships with managers that allow for the maximum leverage from the training dollar. EET as a tool was used more in a developmental context than in the purchasing context as proposed because ultimately informants realised their product was not up for actual purchase. The strength of EET is in identifying key outputs of training products; a weakness is that users need training knowledge to be able to converse effectively with trainers. A formative evaluation of EET identified confusing output and quality descriptions which were amended as part of the present study. Throughout the present study there existed a gulf between the language of academic training and the informant's or practitioner's experience with the researcher continually re-phrasing and clarifying "terms".
Employee training, Training evaluation, Training products