Why the Opt-Out Option is Costing You Valuable Information

September 21, 2016

How often are you providing an opt-out option in your post-training surveys?

Did you know that by allowing your participants to opt-out, you could be losing valuable information?

Reaction sheets often contain an option labeled “Not Applicable.” This choice is appropriate when respondents may not have the information or experience to answer; however, the opt-out choice should be used strategically and not provided as an option for all items. Allowing respondents to skip questions for which they certainly hold an opinion results in the loss of valuable information.

In both of these cases, the respondent has certainly had an experience and can provide some feedback. For item #1, the individual did attend the class. While the student may not have participated much and may not have attended every session, he or she must have some opinion, which is what you are soliciting. Providing a Not Applicable option allows the respondent to prevent you from learning that opinion.

For item #2, all students in the training session listened to the instructor and must have formed some opinion of whether or not they liked the instructor’s communication style. Providing a Not Applicable option forfeits valuable information, and it is not clear what was intended with their response. 

The Not Applicable option is fine for questions about measures of performance that may not have been administered or course materials that may not have been distributed, but all students should provide an opinion on characteristics of the instructor and course. In all cases, judicious use of the Not Applicable option will provide more useful data and more interpretable results.

This is one of the many steps to success given in our newest book, specifically Chapter 10: Evaluation Instrument Creation Basics by Matt Champagne.

Want to read more? You can pre-order Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels of Training Evaluation. The book will be available to the public starting on October 1.

In Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels of Training Evaluation, discover a comprehensive blueprint for implementing the model in a way that truly maximizes your business’s results. Using these innovative concepts, principles, techniques, and case studies, you can better train people, improve the way you work, and, ultimately, help your organization meet its most crucial goals. 

You can also learn more about Don Kirkpatrick’s groundbreaking four levels and hear tips for accurately and effectively applying the levels at Jim and Wendy’s webinar, “Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels of Training Evaluation: Do You Really Know the Four Levels?Join the Discussion

How often are you providing the opt-out option? Here are some ways to join the discussion:

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Additional Resources

Kirkpatrick Four Levels® Evaluation Certification Program – Bronze Level

Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels of Training Evaluation

Build a Better Reaction Sheet: Tips from Jim and Wendy Kirkpatrick

Our Favorite Resources for Post-Program Evaluations with Substance

The What, Where, How, Why and When of Gathering Actionable Feedback

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