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In Defense of Level 1 for Instructional Design Professionals

Sometimes I think that we’re too quick to dismiss level-one feedback as we target the upper realms of Donald Kirkpatrick’s levels of evaluation or even Jack Phillips’s ROI. Although such lofty aspirations are noble (and necessary), we can overlook the easy, quick win of gathering learner response after a training intervention. And while survey results make for attractive bar charts, I tend to prefer the open response comments that typically appear at the end of the survey.

Level-one feedback has been on my mind for the past few weeks, ever since we at Allen plastered a bunch of level-one comments onto the walls of our small conference room. (We’ve mixed in a few client comments with the learner comments.)

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Besides interior design, here are some other uses for level-one feedback in instructional design:

  • Communicating it keeps everyone (training folk, managers, and execs) focused on the real-world needs of learners. It reminds us who our learners are and to factor them into our training decisions.
  • If you’re looking to change attitudes and cultures, level-one feedback is going to be a good barometer for knowing what attitudes are changing and what problems may still exist.
  • It can be motivational or inspiring to other learners. You can use excellent feedback as testimonials of the program.

Training and learning are human activities. Level-one feedback often indicates that human connection and promotes further connection. To motivate you to gather your level-one feedback, I’m including some self-congratulatory samples:

  • “The course was very in depth & extremely informative.  It helped that it was interactive, as well.  I feel more confident about approaching potential customers now, as well as having concrete ideas.”
  • “I thought it would be boring but it was fun. I learned a lot. I have been selling for a while; no one ever trained me so I know this will help. And I look forward to the other subjects. I am so excited.”
  • “I feel like I learned more in the last 6 weeks than in the last year, and I think that is largely due to your clear and organized teaching approach. Thank you for sharing all of your wisdom–both about the class and about life after the class– it is something that will stick with me for a long time.”
  • “I was scared at first, but I took a chance at registering online & taking the training course. I feel a lot better about myself & the training has helped.”