The Regence Group’s organizational development department encompasses the training function for the corporation, managing all corporate-wide training initiatives to ensure that learning is bringing value to The Regence Group as a whole, according to Ken Steinman, manager of end-user technical training and performance support. The department uses a learning management system to deliver training, including training on software and soft-skill topics.
“We purchased an assessment tool when we purchased our LMS,” said Steinman, The assessment tool, from Questionmark, was not a part of the LMS, which came from DKSystems, but came bundled with it. “When I was making the purchase, I was able to see a correlation between online learning and online assessment, thinking mostly of certification tests, or even being able to show your level of mastery on a specific topic that you just took a course for,” said Steinman. The LMS and the assessment tool share a protocol that allows test scores to be driven directly into the LMS, streamlining the collection of data from assessments.
Since acquiring the LMS and assessment tool, Steinman said The Regence Group has stepped up its Level I and Level II evaluations, providing online assessments rather than pencil-and-paper-based assessments. Steinman explained that while the corporation mainly does Level I and Level II evaluations, it is also capable of doing Level III evaluations. For example, when the IT department worked with the state labor board in Oregon on a job retraining contract, The Regence Group needed to do a 90-day follow-up to find out if people were actually using the knowledge they had acquired. “This was something that was mandated, and it was just real easy for us with this tool to go out and get them the information,” said Steinman.
“We’ve done Level III off and on, but we do it more by making sure we’re meeting our business partners’ needs as opposed to just going out and asking people, ‘Are you using what we taught you?’ We want to make sure we’re always meeting their needs that way,” Steinman added.
Steinman said that the technology-driven assessment tool has allowed the organizational development department to provide deeper analyses of the assessments. “With the Level II, especially with what we’re able to do now with the technology, it gives us a lot more ability to analyze the questions we’re asking and also to see if there’s a trend,” Steinman explained. “Having that whole database of questions is a great tool for an instructional designer to say, ‘Wow, no one got 100 percent because everyone missed this question. Did we not present it well? Did we not ask the question well?’ If we had to do something that was paper-based, you really don’t see the trend.”
In addition, Steinman said that the technology-based assessments provide extra features that benefit the company. For example, the ability to randomize the test questions helps ensure that the answer key to a test related to training required by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is not available to learners prior to taking the test.
Steinman added that more employees return the online assessment. “We used to do some follow-up stuff that was paper-based, and we did not get a great return on them,” Steinman said. “Almost everybody returned the evaluation when we sent it online. …People are just more in the habit of doing something right away when it comes across their e-mail.”
The Regence Group can also use its assessment tool to determine where learning might be needed. “Even if we need to do a formal training needs assessment with business partners, we can use this survey tool to do things like that,” said Steinman.
Aside from learning-based assessments, Steinman said that The Regence Group is able to use its technology-based assessment tool to survey its employees for other business purposes. “Different departments have different issues that they want to work on, and they want to do an anonymous survey,” said Steinman. “We have the ability to do that and do that effectively.”
Ultimately, it is all of this additional functionality that makes technology-driven assessment worthwhile. Steinman said that The Regence Group has done 40 to 50 surveys of its employees in different departments in the past year, in addition to the training-based assessments it uses the tool for. “I think if I looked at the cost of buying this survey tool, we’ve really gotten our money’s worth out of it,” he said.
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