Chris WigglesworthBy Guest Author, Chris Wigglesworth, Managing Director of Coursecheck 

Training evaluation should be an essential part of the L&D strategy, yet it’s often not given the attention it deserves or needs. From low response rates to poor feedback survey design, training feedback doesn’t always offer the actionable insights training providers need to make and keep their courses effective.

For feedback to be representative, you need to be able to collect a high volume of quality responses. If a learner has something very positive or negative to say, they’re naturally more inclined to want to leave feedback, so it’s those in the middle who need the most encouragement. Creating a culture of improvement and embedding training evaluation into your overall strategy will maximise responses and enable you to make data driven decisions.

From best practice strategies to practical tips, this blog post delves into the methods you should be adopting to boost responses. 

1. Timing is key 

When it comes to collecting training feedback, timing is everything. Response rates are far higher when you gather feedback during the course itself. At this point, participants are still engaged, and their experience is fresh in their minds. Emailing a survey days or weeks later will inevitably result in fewer responses, as participants might have moved on and disengaged.

With the right tools, trainers can easily share online surveys on the spot. For face-to-face training, create a QR code which learners can scan with their devices in the classroom and set aside time for filling in the survey like you would a paper form. For virtual training, a survey link can be pasted into the chat box. As well as guaranteeing a high response rate, these methods save you the trouble of emailing a survey link after the event.

2. Make feedback a group activity 

By dedicating a specific time during the training schedule – towards the end of the course, but not at the very end when they’re getting ready to leave – participants will view feedback collection as part of the course, and they will be far more likely to respond.

Announcing at the very beginning of the course the fact you’ll be collecting feedback will mentally prepare learners for it. It will also make them more mindful throughout the course to pay attention to what was and wasn’t useful.

3. Get your instructors on board 

Course instructors are instrumental in driving responses. The relationship learners build with their instructor can have a significant impact on how they feel about the course and how much they learn. And because of the rapport they’ve built, they’re well placed to ask for feedback.

Response rates can vary hugely from instructor to instructor. Communicating the importance of feedback to your trainers and celebrating the success of those getting good response rates will help drive awareness of its worth. Some companies link Net Promoter Scores (NPS) to bonuses or rank instructors based on their response rates. This is, of course, a matter of corporate culture, however being transparent about the performance of your instructors is proven to have a positive impact on future performance. For instance, high-performing instructors could be celebrated and matched with instructors who’ve received fewer responses or lower rating in order to improve results. 

4. Ask in the right way 

Survey fatigue is real. People are constantly inundated with requests for feedback from all aspects of their life. To get people to leave feedback, it’s essential to ask in the right way. The way in which trainers approach feedback surveys and how they present them to their learners has a substantial impact not only on response rates, but the quality of the responses themselves.  

Some instructors find it an uncomfortable task because they feel like they come across as fishing for compliments, and they’re unsure how to tackle it. Providing them with a script for guidance will help to drive responses and ensure consistency. 

  1. Empathise with participants and express gratitude for their time and willingness to provide feedback.
  2. Make it clear that you’re seeking honest and constructive feedback, rather than just a box ticking exercise, and assure participants that their negative feedback won’t be held against them. Honest feedback is the most valuable kind.
  3. Use words like “If there’s anything WE could have done better please don’t be shy”. It’s easier to ask for feedback when introducing it from the organisation’s perspective.
  4. Explain how their feedback will be taken seriously and used to enhance future training. Participants are more likely to respond when they understand the value of their input and how it will positively impact their future experiences.

5. Keep feedback surveys short and focussed

When it comes to a good survey form, less is definitely more. I recommend no more than ten questions, with every question being distinct and actionable. One way to reduce the number of questions is to consider whether you have redundancy. In other words, if two questions are really asking the same thing in different ways, then see if you can merge them into one. The test of a good question is to ask yourself “How can we act on this feedback?” If you can’t, then it’s probably one you can remove. 

Another way to encourage better response rates is to avoid making questions mandatory. If you try to force participants into answering questions they don’t want to, they will simply end up responding with “n/a”, or worse – they’ll fail to submit the form. Not only will it make the process smoother, but by taking away mandatory questions, it gives learners the freedom to provide input in the areas where they have something valuable to offer.

Increasing course feedback response rates requires thoughtful planning, strategic communication, and a genuine commitment to participant engagement. Whether you’re a training company wanting to market your courses, or an L&D professional looking to prove the value of your learning programme, feedback matters. Remember, more responses lead to richer data, enabling you to identify areas for improvement and turn the data into actionable insights. 

By following these best practice tips, you can create a culture of feedback and continuous improvement and add real value to your organisation. But it’s not just about getting the responses; it’s about what you do with them. So, now you know how to increase your response rates, to unlock the full potential of course feedback, the next step is to make your feedback matter. 

About Coursecheck

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With over 20 years of experience in the world of training, Chris Wigglesworth is passionate about harnessing the power of leaner feedback to drive business performance. He is the founder of Coursecheck, the digital evaluation system. With its seamless integration with Training Orchestra, Coursecheck helps you to improve operational efficiency and turn course feedback into meaningful insights.