Anderson Model of Learning Evaluation: The Comprehensive Guide

2019.07.30 Jonathan Deller
Anderson Model of Learning Evaluation: The Comprehensive Guide

Welcome to the last in our series about learning evaluation models! In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know about the Anderson Model of Learning Evaluation, known as Anderson's Value of Learning Model. We’ll explain how it works, how it differs from other models and what it has to offer. Our guide will give you a better understanding of this unique model and show you the benefits of applying it within your organization.   

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll be discussing things like:  

  1. What is the Anderson model of learning evaluation?
  2. How does the Anderson model of learning evaluation work?
  3. Example of the Anderson model in action
  4. How practical and feasible is the Anderson Value of Learning Model?
  5. What are the advantages of the Anderson Value of Learning Model?
  6. What are the limitations of the Anderson Value of Learning Model?
  7. Conclusion

Let’s get to it!  

1. What is the Anderson model of learning evaluation?

The Anderson model of learning evaluation is a unique three-stage learning evaluation cycle that is designed to be applied at an organizational level. While other training evaluation models focus on specific learning interventions, Anderson’s model is more concerned with aligning the training goals with the organization’s strategic goals.  

The Anderson model was first published by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development in 2006 as the ‘Anderson’s Value of Learning Model’. As a relative newcomer to the training evaluation industry, the Anderson model distinguishes itself by focusing on the two areas that organizations frequently struggle with.  

These are:  

  • Conducting evaluations 

  • Gathering evidence 

The Anderson model of learning evaluation was inspired by a study into learning and development benchmarking by Brandon Hall. This study found that while 73 percent of organizations have learning strategies that are aligned to their business goals, their expectations for training programs were not so closely aligned.  

For example, suppose that the training department of a car manufacturer initiates a program designed to improve the sales team’s performance without making similar efforts to raise manufacturing productivity. This would lead to longer waiting times and may actually hurt the business if the sales team increase sales without being able to deliver cars in time.  

Anderson's Value of Learning model is focused on addressing issues such as these. It is aimed at an organization’s management and intended to align training with strategic priorities. 

Anderson Model of Learning Evaluation: The Comprehensive Guide

  

2. How does the Anderson model of learning evaluation work?

Anderson’s Value of Learning model helps to align an organization’s training programs with its strategic priorities. It does this by focusing on the evaluation of learning strategy, rather than the outcome of individual programs.  

Anderson’s model is a three-stage cycle that helps an organization determine the best training strategy for their needs.  

The three stages are:  

Stage 1: Determine the current alignment of training against strategic priorities for the organization. 

Stage 2:  Use a range of methods to assess and evaluate the contribution of learning. 

Stage 3: Establish the most relevant approaches for your organization.  

The most relevant approach for any given organization will depend on its stakeholders’ goals and values. Anderson’s model suggests four categories of measure, as follows: 

  • Emphasis on the short-term benefits 

  • Emphasis on long-term benefits 

  • Senior management trust in learning contribution 

  • The organization requires learning value metrics

3. Example of the Anderson model in action

To better understand how Anderson’s model works in practice, we’ll use the example of a phone manufacturing company to show the model in action.  

Stage 1: Determine the current alignment of training against strategic priorities for the organization. During this stage, the manufacturing company would review its training programs and determine whether they were in alignment with its strategic goals. For example, if its training programs were focused on improving sales, you would expect its strategic priorities to be increasing manufacturing productivity to meet increased sales. A sales training initiative that wasn’t backed up by a productivity initiative would lead to delayed waiting times and could harm the business. Therefore the first stage of the Anderson model is to check for training and strategic alignment. 

Stage 2:  Use a range of methods to assess and evaluate the contribution of learning. 
In common with other training evaluation models, the most challenging aspect of Anderson’s model is determining the contribution of training and learning to the business goal. Using the example of a phone manufacturer implementing a sales training program, you could study shipments data and see whether the training had an impact on the number of products being shipped. This could be linked to the sales training and used to assign a monetary value to the impact that the training had.  

Stage 3: Establish the most relevant approaches for your organization.  
The third stage of Anderson’s model outlines four specific areas of evaluation. These are:  

  • Return on Investment Measures  
  • Return on Expectation Measures  
  • Benchmark and Capacity Measures 
  • Learning Function Measures 

Let's look at each of these areas in greater detail: 

Return on Investment Measures  
This includes the cost of the learning programs compared with the company’s bottom line.  

Return on Expectation Measures  
This looks at whether the expectations of the training have been met.  

Benchmark and Capacity Measures 
This looks at how the organization is doing relative to others.  

Learning Function Measures 
This studies how efficient is the program in your business 

Following the Anderson’s model, practitioners would use the areas of evaluation to determine the best approach. The phone manufacturer in our example may be more interested in return on investment (ROI) measures and therefore focus on this metric. They would compare the cost of the training program with the impact on the company’s sales data to determine the ROI of the training program.  

4. How practical and feasible is the Anderson Value of Learning Model?

By looking at both the Return on Investment (ROI) and Return on Expectations (ROE), it is clear that Anderson’s Value of Learning Model emphasizes the importance of aligning training and learning with an organization’s strategic priorities above all else. The obvious question is; how practical and feasible is this approach?

To answer this, we need to begin from the understanding that the Anderson Value of Learning Model is based on the hypothesis that when it comes to training evaluation, one size does not fit all. As the mode focuses on the evaluation of training strategy, rather than on individual training programs, it assumes that a variety of instructional approaches and strategies will be implemented. Therefore, the model’s three-step evaluation cycle addresses the extent to which the training provided value overall, as opposed to which specific training programs were successful or unsuccessful.

The model was conceived as a way of addressing two main challenges:

  • The Evaluation Challenge
  • The Value Challenge

Developed in 2006, the Anderson Model is a relative newcomer to the world of training evaluation. The Evaluation Challenge referred to the fact that many organizations felt it was challenging to evaluate training effectiveness. In other words, they had experimented with other approaches such as the Kirkpatrick Model or the Phillips ROI model and had experienced difficulties in applying these models effectively. The challenging aspects of using these evaluation models stemmed from the costs or complexities of implementing them in the workplace and the difficulties in obtaining useful results from the data.

The Value Challenges referred to the fact that organization leaders often require evidence that a specific learning or training program had provided value. Identifying this value can prove difficult as can deploying resources in a cost-effective manner.

When viewed in this light, the Anderson Value of Learning Model is more practical and feasible than other learning models. As the three-stage cycle is intended to be applied at an organization level, it is arguably more practical than other evaluation models that address the specific learning taking place.

5. What are the advantages of the Anderson Value of Learning Model?

The Anderson Value of Learning Model provides a number of clear advantages over other evaluation models. However, these advantages must be viewed with an understanding of how different this model is to other approaches. Overall, there are three main advantages of this model

  • No ‘One-size-fits-all’
  • Alignment of learning function with strategic priorities
  • Addresses evaluation and value challenges

Let’s look more closely at these three advantages of the Anderson Model.

No ‘One-size-fits-all’
The main advantage of the Anderson Value of Learning Model is that it embraces the concept that adopting a ‘one-size-fits-all’ to training isn’t productive or feasible. This marks it out among other learning evaluation models. Unlike other evaluation models that are looking at training at an instructional level, the Anderson model is focused squarely on the overall learning strategy and the extent to which this is aligned with an organization’s strategic priorities.

This Anderson Model is built on the hypothesis that no single training method or course will meet the needs of all learners. Organizations will need to experiment with a range of approaches to learning journeys in order to meet the needs of their employees. For example, the Anderson Value of Learning Model can be used by any organization no matter which learning model they use. The focus is on whether the learning helps the organization meets its strategic objectives.

Alignment of learning function with strategic priorities
The second main advantage of Anderson Value of Learning Model is that it is applied at an organization level. It looks at the extent to which the training and learning programs are helping an organization meet its strategic priorities. For example, if an organization's goal is to boost it’s ROI, the Anderson Value of Learning Model will tell you whether the training helps support that goal. If there is a misalignment, the model can help an organization decide upon a better instructional approach, such as training that helps boost ROI.

Addresses Evaluation and Value challenges
The third main advantage of the Anderson Value of Learning Model is that it helps an organization address the two main challenges we discussed before – the Evaluation Challenge and the Value challenge. The Anderson model is arguably less challenging to apply than other evaluation models as it isn’t focused on individual training programs. Therefore there is less need for the same level of in-depth data collection and evaluation as other evaluation models call for.

The Anderson Value of Learning Model also helps address the Value challenge, which is the difficulty that many organizations face when collecting data to prove the value of a training course or learning journey. Whereas other models call for the collection of vast quantities of data (to link training with ROI, for example) the Anderson Value of Learning Model is looking at training at an organization level and taking a broader approach to evaluation.

6. What are the limitations of the Anderson Value of Learning Model?
Despite the numerous advantages of this approach to learning evaluation, the Anderson Value of Learning Model has a number of limitations that set it apart from other training evaluation models. In the main, there are two main limitations that we can briefly look at here:

  • Limited depth
  • Limited direction on direct learning evaluation
     

Let’s discuss these two areas in more detail:

Limited depth
The main limitation of the Anderson Value of Learning Model is that it only gives an organization a high-level evaluation of the effectiveness of their training programs. Arguably this makes it simpler and cheaper to apply, but it also means that the model lacks the depth that you get from other evaluation models.

For example, other learning models such as the Kirkpatrick model, go into far greater detail about whether a training program worked and what went right or what went wrong. The Kirkpatrick model will tell a company which aspect of the training was successful and which part of the process requires improvement. By contrast, the Anderson Value of Learning Model provides limited insight into aspects of individual training programs.

This limitation of the Andreson model of learning evaluation will be clear for any organization looking for ways to identify the most effective training program. As the Anderson model takes a broad approach, an organization that uses it cannot identify which training programs were effective and which were not. By looking at training in its entirety, the Anderson model takes a holistic approach that doesn’t account for the success or failure of individual training programs.

Limited direction on direct learning evaluation
As the Anderson Model isn’t an in-depth analysis of individual training programs, its second main limitation is that it doesn’t give specific direction about how to evaluate each learning initiative or learning journey. While the model does encourage the use of different evaluation approaches, it provides little direction on the ‘how’ and ‘what’ of assessment.

With the Anderson Model, the focus is squarely on whether an organization’s training programs, as a whole, are aligned with its strategic objectives. This gives limited direction on how to directly evaluate specific training programs. According to the Anderson model, an organization must combine multiple evaluation approaches (such as the Kirkpatrick Model) in conjunction with the Anderson Value of Learning model, in order to establish whether the strategic priorities are being met.

7. Conclusion

Anderson’s model of training evaluation offers many benefits over other training evaluation models. As it is designed to be applied at an organization level, it is less complex to implement than other types of learning evaluation models. Given its focus on alignment of the strategic priorities and learning strategy of an organization, the Anderson Model is arguable more practical and feasible to implement than other evaluation models. However, in practice, the Anderson model must be combined with other evaluation models (such as the Kirkpatrick model) to provide a holistic picture of the value that a training program or learning journey is bringing to the organization.

 If you're ready to find out how Kodo Survey can help you evaluate the effectiveness of your training programs and learning journeys, request a demo with one of our experts today.  

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Kristoffer
Kristoffer Laag
HR Strategist