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Evaluating Court Training Programs

NCJ Number
Judicature Volume: 64 Issue: 8 Dated: (March 1981) Pages: 369-375
J K Hudzik; J H Wakeley
Date Published
7 pages
This article considers the challenges faced by training programs for court employees and the role that evaluation can play in meeting those challenges.
The evaluation model discussed in the article was developed to assess Michigan Judicial Institute Management Training Programs concerning personnel supervision, fiscal administration, case flow management, and several other topics. However, the model is general enough that it is applicable to evaluating a wide range of training formats and topics. An administrator can choose between two approaches to evaluation: a program monitoring approach and a training/learning approach. The program monitoring approach focuses on four issues: effort, efficiency, effect, and process. The training/learning approach focuses on trainees' reactions to the program, knowledge derived from the program experience, behavioral changes resulting from the program, and degree to which the training program produces organizational change. The second approach appears to be more effective in the context of evaluating court personnel training programs. Choosing a research model for evaluating a training program depends on the evaluation questions to be answered and the resources available. Measuring reactions to the program is relatively simple. It is more costly to establish that learning has occurred, because it is necessary to develop reliable and valid testing instruments and to administer them to two groups both before and after training. The best approach to measuring behavioral change and relating the change to training is to establish a performance appraisal system that routinely measures behavior on the job. The most difficult level of evaluation requires that the behavior of people be measured against the goals of the organization. The Michigan model and experience suggest that a job behavior approach to program evaluation is successful in demonstrating the value of training. One figure and seven footnotes are included.