The Success Case Method to Evaluate Training

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By now you already know that evaluating training is a crucial step every organization must take to ensure that its training objectives are being achieved. The Success Case Method developed by Robert Brinkerhoff is another method that helps organizations answer key questions with respect to their training programs.

The Success Case Method: What Is It?

Robert O. Brinkerhoff
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Robert O. Brinkerhoff, Ed.D., a professor at Western Michigan University and an internationally recognized expert in evaluation and training effectiveness combined the ancient art of storytelling with the analysis of extreme groups to find out the effectiveness of organizational initiatives like learning programs or new work methods. The Success Case Method works by dividing the process into two parts. First of all, a short survey is conducted among all participants of the training program. The survey results are scrutinized to find out how well each of the learners are using the new tools and resources to accomplish results (if any), and then a few of these respondents are categorized as the best and least successful participants. Later on, a random person from these two categories is picked and interviewed in detail to get answers to questions like:

  • What work/learning methodology did they use?
  • What were the results of their actions?
  • What is the quantifiable monetary benefit from the training/ new work methodology?
  • What was the role of their work environment in their being able to achieve these results?

On the other hand, the least successful participants are interviewed to find out what hindrances they faced in benefiting from the training program.

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The findings from both of these detailed interviews are shared with the rest of the trainees in the form of success stories. These are detailed stories that include specific examples of how a successful learner applied his learning to achieve measurable impact, and what factors led to certain trainees not being able to use the training optimally.

The good part about using Brinkerhoff’s method is that trainees have specific example of achievable results in the exact situations that they have or will face. So it motivates them to make the best of their learning and avoiding the pitfalls which would hamper it.


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