Author: British Council | Published on 2 February 2023


 Look at each of the questions in turn. Think carefully about how they relate to your own training experiences. Then click on each box to see tips, advice, guidance and further information.

Think about a training session which you’ve attended. How did the trainer evaluate your skills and knowledge? What feedback did you receive?

In a training session – like in a classroom – everyone wants to know if they’re making progress and developing their skills. Trainees expect to receive feedback from the trainer. This may be positive feedback when they do well, and correction when they haven’t understood something, and advice about how to improve. This feedback gives trainees confidence and helps them to identify what they need to work on. Good trainers are constantly monitoring progress and giving useful feedback. Good trainers also help trainees develop the attitude and knowledge so that they can reflect on and assess their own progress. When we train others, we need to model what we want teachers to do in their classrooms.

Think about a training session which you have given, or which you might give in the future. How could you evaluate teachers’ skills and knowledge?

There are different ways of evaluating trainees. Use several / all of the techniques below to increase their confidence and develop their ability to identify how they can improve.  

Ask yourself these questions: 

  • Do I actively ‘watch’ and ‘listen’ to check trainees understand? Is there sufficient time for questions and discussion?
  • Do I monitor participants during activities? Is this genuine monitoring, or am I just wandering around the room? Do I note strengths and areas for development? 
  • Do I observe individual trainees to identify those who need particular support?
  • Do I praise good work and when people have made a real effort? 
  • Do I regularly give feedback on what and how to improve?
  • Do I share the learning objectives with trainees?
  • Do I evaluate using the learning objectives?
  • Do I make time for reflection and self-assessment, and suggest how trainees can do this?
  • Do I encourage peer evaluation, and suggest how trainees can do this?
  • Do I adapt my training in response to trainees’ understanding and progress?

What are the two main types of evaluation? How do they differ?

There are two main types of evaluation: formal or summative evaluation (e.g. lesson observations, exams, etc.) and informal, formative or ongoing evaluation (e.g. observing and monitoring trainees in the training room). 

  • Formal evaluation can be referred to as ‘evaluation of learning’. It is generally done to measure attainment or to certify trainees at the end of a course, term or school year. It takes the form of exams, and it is used to assign grades and report achievement or failure.
  • Formative evaluation is ‘evaluation for learning’. It is an ongoing interactive process between the trainer and the trainees. It is used to:

         - improve the quality of training and learning; 

        - empower trainees to take an active part in their own learning  

        - develop trainees’ confidence in peer and self-assessment.

Both types of evaluation are important. As a trainer, you need to think about when they should be used.

Why is formative evaluation important?

It is sometimes thought that only formal evaluation matters, but this is not true. Formative evaluation is also very important because:

  • We need to know if learning and development is taking place. If it isn’t, we need to adapt our training.
  • Trainees need regular feedback on their progress and achievement. This will keep them interested and motivated. 

The formative evaluation process shows us whether the learning objectives have been achieved. If they haven’t, we know what we need to review, re-teach or practise further. It helps the trainer ensure that the training is relevant and appropriate. It helps trainees understand what they have achieved, what they need to develop, and how they can do this. It’s important to note that formative evaluation is a measure of progress, and that even though a trainee’s knowledge or skills may be ‘below standard’, they may still have made good progress. This is known as ‘distance travelled’ – even though the trainee may not have travelled as far as others, they may have moved a long way from their starting point.

What formative evaluation tools and activities could you use during training?

Using a mixture of tools and activities to evaluate progress will engage your trainees in the learning process and also develop their reflective and critical skills. Here are some you could try:

Using a chart

As you monitor and observe trainees during activities, make notes about individuals. This is especially useful if you have a large training group and it’s difficult to pay attention to everyone at the same time. Create a chart and choose several individuals to observe more closely each session. As they do group work activities or micro-teaching, make a few notes on your chart. Later you can think about their strengths and difficulties and whether they need extra support or guidance.  

Using learning objectives with self-evaluation

Sharing the learning objectives with trainees at the start of a session gives them clear goals, helps them to focus and increases their interest and motivation. Learning objectives also helps to focus feedback. During the session you can then pause, look again at the relevant learning objective and evaluate the extent to which it has been achieved. You can do this by asking trainees to reflect and self-evaluate, e.g. 3 = I feel confident; 2 = I still have some questions; 1 = I don’t understand/I don’t feel confident. This feedback will show you and your trainees whether they are ready to move on, or whether you need to review and/or practise further.

Introducing peer evaluation

When trainees evaluate each other, they also learn from each other. However, they may need guidance or training about how to do this. When introducing peer evaluation, discuss how to do this sensitively and respectfully. You should also demonstrate / model / role play with a stronger trainee. Remind trainees about the learning objectives so that the evaluation is relevant and accurate. 

Using journals

Writing a journal can help trainees reflect on what they have learnt, and the areas they still need to develop. You can introduce this idea at the start of a training programme. Ask participants to identify one or two particular personal learning goals, i.e. specific areas they are interested in / want to develop, e.g. classroom management, giving instructions, increasing student speaking time. They can then form questions, e.g. ‘What management strategies did I use during micro-teaching? Were they successful? How do I know?’ At the end of the session / training day, they can record their reflections and identify a focus for the next micro-teaching activity. Getting into the habit of using a journal now will encourage trainees to continue to reflect and self-evaluate later when they teach. 

Create a learning wall

Display a large piece of poster paper on the wall. At the end of each session, invite trainees to post positive feedback about each other. They could do this using post-it notes too. Doing this helps trainees understand they are part of a learning community and that they can learn from each other. If participants don’t feel comfortable using people’s names directly, this could also be done anonymously.

What changes are you going to make to the way you evaluate trainees?

This is up to you! But be confident and try things out. Realise that things will not always work first time – but don’t be discouraged by this. Be honest with yourself afterwards and think why it didn’t work, and make the necessary changes for next time. Get feedback from the participants if you can – they may be able to tell you which evaluation tools and activities they find most useful and suggest other ideas, too.