Follow-up is essential in all training situations as it provides participants with further support and skill development. Also, follow-up improves existing trainings as well as future training plans. The lecturers get a feedback on what the participants actually learned during the training, whereas the participants have the opportunity to reflect on their learning a second time.
What Is Follow-up on Trainings?
Successful training events always integrate follow-up to provide further support, skill development, and continuous improvement to promote new practise. Trainers responsible for the training plans will benefit from this discussion of the need for a connexion between new learning and a process of ongoing learning and feedback. This is important especially for further development of solid teaching practise and approaches to supervision (KNAPP-PHILO 2007). Whereas evaluation of the training course takes place during the training itself, follow-up on trainings comes after the training and is often combined with quality control assessment (see figure).
Follow-up process embedded in training events. Source: LOOMIS (2007)
Important Dimensions of a Training Follow-up
(Adapted from RAE 2004)
An effective follow-up phase includes several dimensions:
- Determining what the participants have learned during the course
- Giving the learners time to reflect on their learning prior to their completion of the post-training personal action plan
- Getting useful feedback in an organised manner to help with future training planning
- Ensuring trainees and learners follow up their training with relevant actions to apply, improve, develop and reinforce learning attained.
Examples of Follow-up on Trainings
- Ask each participant to email you a brief summary of the three most important points they learned in the training. Let a few weeks pass and then email the responses to the group, along with any additional feedback that has occurred in the meantime. This will give you an opportunity to reinforce what was learned a second time.
- Send out a quiz related to the training’s content several weeks after the initial session. Post the responses and award a prize for the “best” answers. The quiz can be either multiple choice or free answer.
- A week after the training, ask participants what new skill or technique they have tried based on the materials covered in the training. When appropriate, post the anecdotes in a public place or mass email. Be sure to solicit feedback as to what worked well, what did not go as smoothly, and what additional training is needed.
- At the close of the training, ask each participant to commit to trying 1-3 new skills from the program. Ask them to write them down, and let them know that the group will get back together to follow up and discuss techniques tried. Next, schedule a follow-up session. You may want to facilitate this meeting yourself or bring back the program’s trainer. Be an active partner in the training process. Remember, people gain new skills when they see others doing the same, when they see value in those skills, and when motivated with incentives to do so.
- You can organise a “keep on doing” session. To do this, you could invite your participants to exchange what they have done after the training (e.g. a year after the training has taken place). Let them tell whether the training was useful or not useful for their career. This will also engage the fellow trainees to work further.
- The other way to do the follow-up is to get help of internet platforms. Create a platform and invite participants to join it. Initiate discussions regarding the topic and thereby keep in touch with the activities they are doing.
Benefits of Follow-up on Trainings
- Further measure effectiveness of training
- Long-term evaluation: Measure change in behaviour, knowledge and attitudes
- Quality control: Make sure that participants are implementing correctly
- Solicit additional feedback on training
- Provision additional training
- Answers questions and clarifies original lessons
- Gives more specific advice and more relevant demonstrations
- Follow-up on action plan
- Check benchmarks and milestones in action plan
As mentioned before, it is very useful for learners, trainers and future training planning to implement a follow-up. However, it is not always easy to conduct a follow-up, especially when participants and trainers meet only once for a training course and then go back to their work in different contexts (maybe even in different countries). Even if the follow-up is done only by mail or over the internet, it can be difficult to motivate the learners to contribute to a reliable follow-up. Under these circumstances, you have to make sure that you invest enough time and resources in implementing an appropriate evaluation during the training course, but still give participants the opportunity to make use of a follow-up if they wish to do so.
- Determining the learning outcomes of the training
- Assessing the results and reinforcing the key points
- Providing the learners time to reflect on their learning
- Getting useful feedback which supports future trainings
- Determining what kind of retraining is needed
- Requires time and resources investment
- Participants may not be willing to contribute to the follow-up after the training
- Difficult to set up when people meet only once and have no further connection to each other
- Difficulties to capture a comprehensive follow-up when it is only possible by mail
BUSINESS TRAINING WORKS (Editor) (n.y.): Five fantastic ways to follow up on training. Maryland: Business Training Works, INC.. URL [Accessed: 21.05.2010]. PDF
This document describes five ways how to follow up training. It is a detailed description how you can integrate the participant in the follow-up.
LOOMIS, M. (2007): Making your trainings more effective. Durham: Family Health International. URL [Accessed: 21.05.2010]. PDF
This presentation explains the difference between an evaluation and follow-up and describes the benefits of implementing an adequate follow
RAE, L. (2004): Evaluation of training and learning. Leicester: Business Balls. URL [Accessed: 21.05.2010]. PDF
These documents contain samples of evaluation forms, action plans as well as follow-up actions.
ISPCAN (2008): Training Evaluation Form. Chicago: ISPCAN International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Negelect. URL [Accessed: 24.04.2011]. PDF
This training evaluation form, developed by ISPCAN within their international training programme ITPI can easily be adapted for own trainings and allow to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of a training, allowing trainers to improve their trainings continuously.