The 27 best training survey questions to start asking your delegates

the 27 best training survey questions to start asking your delegates

Whether you call them happy sheets, training evaluation forms, or something else entirely, we can all unite on the importance of the collection and effective use of feedback in order to improve our training offering.

Many training organisations underestimate the power of great feedback - either the questions on the form don't provide helpful, actionable feedback or the method of collection is inadequate.

There's a number of benefits of collecting feedback. Some of the most notable include:

  • Having the opportunity to improve your business - accessplanit's annual benchmark report told us that 78% of training professionals see customer satisfaction as the most important metric for success.
  • Empowering your learners - By giving your learners a voice, you are telling them you care and value their input. It can feel good to share an opinion, particularly if you feel there was something either positive, negative or constructive to say about the experience.
  • The ability to track improvement over time - How can you know how effective and impactful your current training offering is if you have nothing to benchmark against?
  • Getting input you may not have thought about - A good feedback form will collect insight on the full training experience - there's bound to be a number of things a delegate picks up on that you've never thought about before.

Training feedback is often (and more commonly) associated with a post-course activity, however it's becoming increasingly common to run pre-course surveys or questionnaires too. This allows you to gain information that you can then use as measurable for post-course evaluation.

Best practice dictates that before we start generating the survey, it's useful to have an idea of:

  1. What you want to get out of it - Evaluation forms can tell you endless things about your training business. Some of it is relevant and actionable, some of it is irrelevant or less important. Knowing what measurables you are tracking must be defined before the questions are created. This should be in line with the objectives and mission of your training business.
  2. How you are going to collect this feedback - Creating an awesome survey means nothing if people aren't filling it in, or if it's rushed by delegates so they can leave the classroom. Coming up with a feedback collection plan is key.
  3. How you are going to structure the survey - Questions laid out in an illogical way or restricting the survey to just closed questions is going to be confusing for the delegate and not give you the answers you desire. Think about the flow of the survey and use varied question types throughout.

We work with hundreds of training providers and have unique insight in to the kind of survey questions that provide the most value for our customers. Here's our top 27 training survey questions to start asking your delegates.

Pre-course surveys

Pre-course surveys are an effective way to find out what your delegates are interested in, how they learn best, their current level of competency and past experiences. It allows you to build a picture of your audience, personalise the experience, and be able to more effectively measure the impact of your training.

What are you hoping to get out of this course?

This is the most important pre-course question you could possibly ask. We're looking to establish why the delegate came to train with you in the first place, and where they are trying to get to. This lets you tailor your course to meet their objectives and, paired with your post course survey, provides a measurable to see if you reached their objectives. In rare cases, it can also be useful at highlighting any misalignment between the course you're offering and the value that participants see in how's it's being marketed.

How do you learn most effectively?

Everybody learns in different ways. Not only do our preferred learning styles help us to absorb information more readily, but it also allows us to get more enjoyment from the training experience. By asking this question early on, you can tailor the content delivery to better match your learners, or, alternatively, move learners on to a different course or delivery method if you feel it won't be suitable for their learning styles.

What made you choose THIS course?

What made the delegate choose your course over the others available? This question can tell you a lot about the motivations of your delegates and what stood out about your offering. Perhaps there's a particular module you offer that's piqued their interest, or your instructor has more industry experience than your competitors. There's a number of different potential answers to this question, but ultimately, they chose your business, and it's important to find out why!

How would you rate your current understanding of [topic]?

Finding out the current understanding of your delegates on a given topic is helpful in tailoring the content to their skill level. Depending on the answers you get, it can also tell you a great deal about how the course is being sold and marketed. Informative and accurate website copy and marketing will mean delegates are on a course that is appropriate for their skill level and that of other participants.

Have you taken any course within [industry] prior to this one?

This question looks similar to the one above, but has an important difference. Here we want to know if they've undertaken any specific training to validate their understanding of a given topic. It can tell us what they know already, but more importantly, what they are building on and what their professional aspirations are.

Do you have any questions about the course?

Don't let the delegate find themselves with unanswered questions going in to the course. There's a number of things that can need clarifying pre-course, whether that's related to the location of training, equipment needed for the day, pre-requisites or COVID measures. It's a simple question, but one you'd be wise not to leave out!

Post-course surveys

Trainer & Delivery

If training delivery isn't up to scratch, everything else falls down. When surveying delegates on training delivery, we're focusing on both the individual performance and general likeability of the trainer and how effective and engaging they are at delivering content to an audience.

How would you rate the overall course delivery?

The way the course is delivered is a key indicator of how much delegates enjoyed a course.  When we say delivery, we're talking about the presentation of a course, the slides, the demonstrations, the discussions and activities that the trainer uses to deliver learning. It can tell you a lot about the variation of activities and flow of the session, but also how well you've catered to the different learning styles of your group.

How would you rate the quality of the instructor?

It's common knowledge that the quality of the trainer can make or break a course. Remember the phrase, "It's not what you say - it's how you say it!" - that applies rather well here. Great trainers on boring topics are much more engaging than boring trainers on great topics. It's so important to have quality instructors leading your courses, and your delegates are bound to have feelings about how engaging, interesting, helpful, likeable and effective the trainer was.

How would you rate your trainer’s expertise?

When a delegate comes to be trained, it's expected the training is coming from an experienced and knowledgeable source. When questions are asked by delegates, or if points need further clarification, it's important the trainer comes up with the answer and is able to draw on real life examples and case studies to reinforce learning. Less experienced trainers may often rely on written material or slides for prompts (which may not necessarily be an issue), however you want to hear it from the delegates - how clued up did they feel the instructor was on a given topic?

Content

The training content relates to your course material. Your training slides, your videos, your props - any information that is presented to learners falls under this umbrella. It's content that will remain with the delegate long after the course is complete - it's important this represents your brand and business well.

Was the training relevant to your needs?

Establishing the relevance of your training is a really clever question to ask your learners. Were they put on a course that wasn't suitable? Ultimately, irrelevant training is a waste of time for the learner, a waste of time for the trainer and a waste of resource for an employer to send a delegate on the course. One would question how this could happen - it indicates a break down in communication at some point in the sales process.

Did you learn something new?

If your learners don't learn something new, this highlights a fundamental problem with your training offering. It infers that the training was either irrelevant for them, uninteresting to the point they weren't absorbing information or they knew it all already. All of the above are a serious concern as a training provider.

How engaging was the overall content?

At the heart of every great training program is engaging content. The answer to this question can tell you how well you understood and responded to the way the delegate says they learn best from the pre-course survey. If you're struggling with engagement, check out our recent blog on 5 ways to make boring training interesting.

Environment & Accessibility

A training environment can either relate to a physical venue or a virtual learning environment (VLE). An effective learning environment is one which helps, not hinders learning. It should be conducive to the overall experience.

Online

How easy to use and navigate was the online learning environment?

Aptitude within technology can vary massively, however a learning environment shouldn't be difficult to use, even for a novice. If users are struggling with navigation through your learning environment, it's typically obvious in their time spent on the platform. If usability issues arise, it's worth hiring a UI/UX designer for some support in restructuring to make it more user-friendly and accessible.

How would you rate the quality of multimedia used within the course?

In the modern day, when customers are paying for online training, pixelated images, stuttering videos and outdated clipart aren't going to be well received by delegates. Despite everyone probably having a different idea of what constitutes 'quality' multimedia, it's expected that everything is clear, high enough resolution and relevant for the topic.

Did you encounter any technical problems while using our VLE?

Any technical problems encountered within your learning environment need to be rectified straight away. In the rare occurrence that the delegate hasn't mentioned this before the end of the course, this represents a final opportunity for them to vocalise any issues to you. Without the prompt, there may be minor (or even major) issues that fall under the radar because no-one ever asked if there was even a problem.

Face to face

Overall, how did you find the training facilities?

What makes a good training environment? In truth, there's a number of factors, including the location, comfort, setting, lighting, temperature, refreshments, technology and lots more. We can't ask about all of these aspects individually, but we can get an idea of the big picture. Don't underestimate how much the facilities at your training premise feed in to the overall experience for the delegate. 

Which aspects of the training environment do you think could be improved?

Your delegates are bound to have experienced other training environments that have stuck in their memory. This question can help to draw any ideas out of them to help improve your centre. They may also pick up on some issues within the environment that you hadn't been made aware of previously, such as parking troubles, noise from outside, or COVID security.

Structure & Duration

Questions related to the structure and duration of the course are often forgotten or left out of post-course evaluations, which is unwise as they tend to provide valuable feedback for future training sessions.

How well was the training structured? / Was the content structure clear and logical?

If the training session is poorly structured, it can feel very disjointed and lacking any kind of flow or progression. It may also mean that things overrun or breaks don't happen as they should. When this happens, it can cause confusion or lead to delegates switching off. Ideally, you want training sessions to unravel like a story, and ensure key topics are covered when delegates are most attentive!

How would you describe the training pace?

We have all experienced this in school - everyone learns at a different pace. For some, complex ideas would simply 'click' and for others, it would need practical application or regular reinforcement. It's hard for trainers to cater to every pace of learning, however it's useful feedback to hear from delegates what they thought of the learning pace.  If this is heavily weighted in terms of the session running too fast or too slow, this suggests the session plan needs some work.

Did you have enough time allocated to complete the training?

Particularly for multi-session, CPD or online learning courses, having enough time to complete training modules is crucial. Unless it's exam conditions, no learning should feel rushed or diluted due to time constraints.

Outcomes & Satisfaction

Did the training meet your expectations? / How did the course compare to what you expected?

We all have an idea of how we want a training session to go and what we want coming out of it. Asking about the expectations of your delegates is effective at telling you how well you did at positioning the course and doing what you said you'll do. If it doesn't meet expectations, there's work to be done in finding the root cause - whether that's to do with the delivery of training, the content, the structure or the advertising of the course.

How likely would you be to recommend this training course to a friend or colleague?

It's one of the most commonly asked questions in a survey - "would you recommend us?" And rightly so. This question is used extensively within customer experience. An NPS (Net Promoter Score) format would be advised for this, where (on a score of 1 - 10), scores of 9 or 10 indicate a promoter of your business, 7-8 are passives and a score under 7 is a detractor. Your customer experience team can follow up on these scores to either help gain referrals, or to find out what you can do better next time.

What did you like the most about the training?

In any training session, there's usually something that stands out above the rest. Whether that's a particular topic, an activity, a story or something else entirely. Finding out what that is each time you run a training session can help you to do more of it in the next one. It might be surprising to find that your delegates each preferred something different about the session!

What were your three key take-aways from the session?

Asking delegates to recite three things that have stuck with them from the session is a great way to reinforce learning through memory recall, but also find out what it is that stuck with them. You'll usually find it was something that relates to a practical activity, video or story. It's important to recognise when these moments in your session occur, as they can be strategically placed to engage delegates when attention tends to drift.

What one thing would you change about this training session? / Do you have any suggestions to improve this course?

It wouldn't be an effective survey without some constructive criticism. The worst answer you can get to this question is 'nothing'. There's always something that can be improved, what's important is drawing this out from your delegates openly and honestly. The question proves much more effective if the instructor is active in encouraging the constructive feedback.

What training would you be interested in undertaking next?

Learning and development is a continuous cycle. By asking your learners what they want to learn next, you're identifying a future opportunity to upsell before they've had chance to forget about you. You may find that delegates aspire to learn more about a topic or course that you don't currently offer! If responses to this question are lacking, it's worth investigating why!

Would you take a training course like this again?

An easy way to find out how useful a training session was is to simply ask if the delegate would take it again. The great thing about asking this is that it requires minimal thought for the delegate - it's a closed question -  it was either useful and enjoyable and they'd return or it was not worth their time (read: irrelevant, boring) and they wouldn't come back. Simple, but certainly effective.

Creating your survey

The technology you use to create and distribute your surveys can determine whether you receive hundreds of useful, informative responses or a handful of rushed scribbles. Our annual training industry report has tracked the use of happy sheets over the past 5 years and found an increasing trend of them falling out of favour, with most training professionals switching to online evaluation forms - and for good reason!

happy sheet use by year

Online training forms are preferred for a number of different reasons:

  • They are more easily edited & amended
  • They don't have to be completed on the day
  • They can provide valuable information about response rate, time spent on questions etc
  • They can be sent via email or uploaded to learner portals for completion
  • They don't rely on manual data entry
  • They are much better for the environment!

It's common for training professionals to use tools like SurveyMonkey for survey creation, however many training and learning management systems such as accessplanit now have their own survey-builder already incorporated within the software. This saves any hassle moving data between platforms, and means as soon as your survey is created it's ready to distribute and collate responses against the user record!

This is particularly useful if you're concerned about response rates - you can even set up workflows to ensure that a certificate is only sent out to a delegate once a feedback form has been completed.

Conclusion

Asking the right questions is crucial when running training surveys.

Every question should have a unique purpose in trying to draw out helpful information from the delegates experience with you. Pilot tests are a great way to gauge survey length, structure and flow and ensure you get the highest response rate possible. Care should be taken to adjust and reword surveys as required, especially if certain questions aren't relevant in some training scenarios.

If you're after further guidance, there's a number of different models you can use to help you structure your surveys, including Kaufman's Five Levels Of Evaluation and The Kirkpatrick Model to name a couple.

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