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training programme evaluation

training and learning evaluation, feedback forms,
action plans and follow-up
W Leslie Rae has written over 30 books on training and the evaluation of learning - he is an
expert in his field. His guide to the effective evaluation of training and learning, training
courses and learning programmes, is a useful set of rules and techniques for all trainers and
HR professionals. This training evaluation guide is augmented by an excellent set of free
learning evaluation and follow -up tools, created by Rae, and available as a free pdf document
to view and download on this site. See also the free behavioural assessment tool (completed
example and manual form, also both free pdfs).

It is recommended that you read this article before using the free evaluation and training
follow -up tools.

See also the section on Donald Kirkpatrick's training evaluation model, which represents
fundamantal theory and principles for evaluating learning and training. Also see Bloom's
Taxonomy of learning domains, which also establishes fundamental principles for training
design and evalution of learning, and thereby, training effectiveness.

There have been many 'surveys' on the use of evaluation in training and development. Results
initially appear heartening; many trainers/organizations responding about the extensive
approaches they use. However when more specific and penetrating questions are asked, many
professional trainers and training departments are found to use only 'reactionnaires' (general
vague feedback forms), including the invidious 'Happy Sheet' where, for example, questions
such as 'How good did you feel the trainer was?', and 'How enjoyable was the training
course?' are used. Even well-produced reactionnaires do not constitute validation or

For effective training and learning evaluation, the principal significant questions should be:

? To what extent were the identified training needs objectives achieved by the
? To what extent were the learners' objectives achieved?
? What specifically did the learners learn or be usefully reminded of?
? What commitment have the learners made about the learning they are going to
implement on their return to work?

And back at work,

? How successful were the trainees in implementing their action plans?

? To what extent were they supported in this by their line managers?
? To what extent has the action listed above achieved a Return on Investment (ROI) for
the organization, either in terms of identified objectives satisfaction or, where possible, a

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monetary assessment.

Organizations commonly fail to perform these evaluation processes, especially where:

? The HR department and trainers, do not have sufficient time to do so, and/or
? The HR department does not have sufficient resources - people and money - to do so.

Obviously the evaluation cloth must be cut according to available resources (and the culture
atmosphere), which tend to vary substantially from one organization to another. The fact
remains that good methodical evaluation produces a good reliable data; conversely, where
little evaluation is performed, little is ever known about the effectiveness of the training.

evaluation of training
There are the two principal factors which need to be resolved:

? Who is responsible for the validation and evaluation processes?

? What resources of time, people and money are available for validation/evaluation
purposes? (Within this, consider the effect of variation to these, for instance an
unexpected cut in budget or manpower. In other words anticipate and plan contingency
to deal with variation.)

responsibility for the evaluation of training

Traditionally, in the main, any evaluation or other assessment has been left to the trainers
"because that is their job..." My (Rae's) contention is that a 'Training Evaluation Quintet'
should exist, each member of the Quintet having roles and responsibilities in the process (see
'Assessing the Value of Your Training', Leslie Rae, Gower, 2002). Considerable lip service
appears to be paid to this, but the actual practice tends to be a lot less.

The 'Training Evaluation Quintet' advocated consists of:

? senior management
? the trainer
? line management
? the training manager
? the trainee

Each has their own responsibilities, which are detailed next.

senior management - training evaluation


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? Awareness of the need and value of training to the organization.

? The necessity of involving the Training Manager (or equivalent) in senior management
meetings where decisions are made about future changes when training will be essential.
? Knowledge of and support of training plans.
? Active participation in events.
? Requirement for evaluation to be performed and require regular summary report.
? Policy and strategic decisions based on results and ROI data.

the trainer - training evaluation responsibilities

? Provision of any necessary pre-programme work etc and programme planning.
? Identification at the start of the programme of the knowledge and skills level of the
? Provision of training and learning resources to enable the learners to learn within the
objectives of the programme and the learners' own objectives.
? Monitoring the learning as the programme progresses.
? At the end of the programme, assessment of and receipt of reports from the learners of
the learning levels achieved.
? Ensuring the production by the learners of an action plan to reinforce, practise and
implement learning.

the line manager - training evaluation responsibilities

? Work-needs and people identification.
? Involvement in training programme and evaluation development.
? Support of pre-event preparation and holding briefing meetings with the learner.
? Giving ongoing, and practical, support to the training programme.
? Holding a debriefing meeting with the learner on their return to work to discuss, agree or
help to modify and agree action for their action plan.
? Reviewing the progress of learning implementation.
? Final review of implementation success and assessment, where possible, of the ROI.

the training manager - training evaluation

? Management of the training department and agreeing the training needs and the

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programme application
? Maintenance of interest and support in the planning and implementation of the
programmes, including a practical involvement where required
? The introduction and maintenance of evaluation systems, and production of regular
reports for senior management
? Frequent, relevant contact with senior management
? Liaison with the learners' line managers and arrangement of learning implementation
responsibility learning programmes for the managers
? Liaison with line managers, where necessary, in the assessment of the training ROI.

the trainee or learner - training evaluation

? Involvement in the planning and design of the training programme where possible
? Involvement in the planning and design of the evaluation process where possible
? Obviously, to take interest and an active part in the training programme or activity.
? To complete a personal action plan during and at the end of the training for
implementation on return to work, and to put this into practice, with support from the
line manager.
? Take interest and support the evaluation processes.

N.B. Although the principal role of the trainee in the programme is to learn, the learner must
be involved in the evaluation process. This is essential, since without their comments much of
the evaluation could not occur. Neither would the new knowledge and skills be implemented.
For trainees to neglect either responsibility the business wastes its investment in training.
Trainees will assist more readily if the process avoids the look and feel of a paper-chase or
number-crunching exercise. Instead, make sure trainees understand the importance of their
input - exactly what and why they are being asked to do.

training evaluation and validation options

As suggested earlier what you are able to do, rather than what you would like to do or what
should be done, will depend on the various resources and culture support available. The
following summarizes a spectrum of possibilities within these dependencies.

1 - do nothing
Doing nothing to measure the effectiveness and result of any business activity is never a good
option, but it is perhaps justifiable in the training area under the following circumstances:

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? If the organization, even when prompted, displays no interest in the evaluation and
validation of the training and learning - from the line manager up to to the board of
? If you, as the trainer, have a solid process for planning training to meet organizational
and people-development needs.
? If you have a reasonable level of assurance or evidence that the training being delivered
is fit for purpose, gets results, and that the organization (notably the line managers and
the board, the potential source of criticism and complaint) is happy with the training
? You have far better things to do than carry out training evaluation, particularly if
evaluation is difficult and co-operation is sparse.

However, even in these circumstances, there may come a time when having kept a basic
system of evaluation will prove to be helpful, for example:

? You receive have a sudden unexpected demand for a justification of a part or all of the
training activity. (These demands can spring up, for example with a change in
management, or policy, or a new initiative).
? You see the opportunity or need to produce your own justification (for example to
increase training resource, staffing or budgets, new premises or equipment) .
? You seek to change job and need evidence of the effectiveness of your past training

Doing nothing is always the least desirable option. At any time somebody more senior to you
might be moved to ask "Can you prove what you are saying about how successful you are?"
Without evaluation records you are likely to be at a loss for words of proof...

2 - minimal action
The absolutely basic action for a start of some form of evaluation is as follows:

At the end of every training programme, give the learners sufficient time and support in the
form of programme information, and have the learners complete an action plan based on what
they have learned on the programme and what they intend to implement on their return to
work. This action plan should not only include a description of the action intended but
comments on how they intend to implement it, a timescale for starting and completing it, and
any resources required, etc. A fully detailed action plan always helps the learners to
consolidate their thoughts. The action plan will have a secondary use in demonstrating to the
trainers, and anyone else interested, the types and levels of learning that have been achieved.
The learners should also be encouraged to show and discuss their action plans with their line
managers on return to work, whether or not this type of follow-up has been initiated by the

3 - minimal desirable action leading to evaluation

When returning to work to implement the action plan the learner should ideally be supported

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by their line manager, rather than have the onus for implementation rest entirely on the
learner. The line manager should hold a debriefing meeting with the learner soon after their
return to work, covering a number of questions, basically discussing and agreeing the action
plan and arranging support for the learner in its implementation. As described earlier, this is a
clear responsibility of the line manager, which demonstrates to senior management, the
training department and, certainly not least, the learner, that a positive attitude is being taken
to the training. Contrast this with, as often happens, a member of staff being sent on a
training course, after which all thoughts of management follow-up are forgotten.

The initial line manager debriefing meeting is not the end of the learning relationship between
the learner and the line manager. At the initial meeting, objectives and support must be
agreed, then arrangements made for interim reviews of implementation progress. After this
when appropriate, a final review meeting needs to consider future action.

This process requires minimal action by the line manager - it involves no more than the sort of
observations being made as would be normal for a line manager monitoring the actions of his
or her staff. This process of review meetings requires little extra effort and time from the
manager, but does much to demonstrate at the very least to the staff that their manager takes
training seriously.

4 - training programme basic validation approach

The action plan and implementation approach described in (3) above is placed as a
responsibility on the learners and their line managers, and, apart from the provision of advice
and time, do not require any resource involvement from the trainer. There are two further
parts of an approach which also require only the provision of time for the learners to describe
their feelings and information. The first is the reactionnaire which seeks the views, opinions,
feelings, etc., of the learners about the programme. This is not at a 'happy sheet' level, nor a
simple tick-list - but one which allows realistic feelings to be stated.

This sort of reactionnaire is described in the book ('Assessing the Value of Your Training',
Leslie Rae, Gower, 2002). This evaluation seeks a score for each question against a 6-point
range of Good to Bad, and also the learners' own reasons for the scores, which is especially
important if the score is low.

Reactionnaires should not be automatic events on every course or programme. This sort of
evaluation can be reserved for new programmes (for example, the first three events) or when
there are indications that something is going wrong with the programme.

Sample reactionnaires are available in the set of free training evaluation tools.

The next evaluation instrument, like the action plan, should be used at the end of every
course if possible. This is the Learning Questionnaire (LQ), which can be a relatively simple
instrument asking the learners what they have learned on the programme, what they have
been usefully reminded of, and what was not included that they expected to be included, or
would have liked to have been included. Scoring ranges can be included, but these are

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minimal and are subordinate to the text comments made by the learners. There is an
alternative to the LQ called the Key Objectives LQ (KOLQ) which seeks the amount of learning
achieved by posing the relevant questions against the list of Key Objectives produced for the
programme. When a reactionnaire and LQ/KOLQ are used, they must not be filed away and
forgotten at the end of the programme, as is the common tendency, but used to produce a
training evaluation and validation summary. A factually-based evaluation summary is
necessary to support claims that a programme is good/effective/satisfies the objectives set'.
Evaluation summaries can also be helpful for publicity for the training programme, etc.

Example Learning Questionnaires and Key Objectives Learning Questionnaires are included in
the set of free evaluation tools.

5 - total evaluation process

If it becomes necessary the processes described in (3) and (4) can be combined and
supplemented by other methods to produce a full evaluation process that covers all
eventualities. Few occasions or environments allow this full process to be applied, particularly
when there is no Quintet support, but it is the ultimate aim. The process is summarized below:

? Training needs identification and setting of objectives by the organization

? Planning, design and preparation of the training programmes against the objectives
? Pre-course identification of people with needs and completion of the preparation required
by the training programme
? Provision of the agreed training programmes
? Pre-course briefing meeting between learner and line manager
? Pre-course or start of programme identification of learners' existing knowledge, skills and
attitudes, ('3-Test' before-and-after training example tool and manual version)
? Interim validation as programme proceeds
? Assessment of terminal knowledge, skills, etc., and completion of perceptions/change
assessment ('3-Test' example tool and manual version)
? Completion of end-of-programme reactionnaire
? Completion of end-of-programme Learning Questionnaire or Key Objectives Learning
? Completion of Action Plan
? Post-course debriefing meeting between learner and line manager
? Line manager observation of implementation progress
? Review meetings to discuss progress of implementation
? Final implementation review meeting
? Assessment of ROI

Do something. The processes described above allow considerable latitude depending on
resources and culture environment, so there is always the opportunity to do something -

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obviously the more tools used and the wider the approach, the more valuable and effective
the evaluation will be. However be pragmatic. Large expensive critical programmes will always
justify more evaluation and scrutiny than small, one -off, non-critical training activities. Where
there's a heavy investment and expectation, so the evaluation should be sufficiently detailed
and complete. Training managers particularly should clarify measurement and evaluation
expectations with senior management prior to embarking on substantial new training activities,
so that appropriate evaluation processes can be established when the programme itself is

Where large and potentially critical programmes are planned, training managers should err on
the side of caution - ensure adequate evaluation processes are in place. As with any
investment, a senior executive is always likely to ask, "What did we get for our investment?",
and when he asks, the training manager needs to be able to provide a fully detailed response.

the trainer's overall responsibilities - aside from

training evaluation
Over the years the trainer's roles have changed, but the basic raison-d'être for the trainer is to
provide efficient and effective training programmes. The following suggests the elements of
the basic role of the trainer, but it must be borne in mind that different circumstances will
require modifications of these activities.

1. The basic role of a trainer (or however they may be designated) is to offer and provide
efficient and effective training programmes aimed at enabling the participants to learn the
knowledge, skills and attitudes required of them.

2. A trainer plans and designs the training programmes, or otherwise obtains them (for
example, distance learning or e-technology programmes on the Internet or on CD/DVD), in
accordance with the requirements identified from the results of a TNIA (Training Needs
Identification and Analysis) for the relevant staff of an organizations or organizations.

3. The training programmes cited at (1) and (2) must be completely based on the TNIA which
has been: (a) completed by the trainer on behalf of and at the request of the relevant
organization (b) determined in some other way by the organization.

4. Following discussion with or direction by the organization management who will have taken
into account costs and values (eg ROI - Return on Investment in the training), the trainer will
agree with the organization management the most appropriate form and methods for the

5 . If the appropriate form for satisfying the training need is a direct training course or
workshop, or an Intranet provided programme, the trainer will design this programme using
the most effective approaches, techniques and methods, integrating face-to-face practices

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with various forms of e-technology wherever this is possible or desirable.

6. If the appropriate form for satisfying the training need is some form of open learning
programme or e-technology programme, the trainer, with the support of the organization
management obtain, plan the utilization and be prepared to support the learner in the use of
the relevant materials.

7. The trainer, following contact with the potential learners, preferably through their line
managers, to seek some pre-programme activity and/or initial evaluation activities, should
provide the appropriate training programme(s) to the learners provided by their organization
(s). During and at the end of the programme, the trainer should ensure that: (a) an effective
form of training/learning validation is followed (b) the learners complete an action plan for
implementation of their learning when they return to work.

8. Provide, as necessary, having reviewed the validation results, an analysis of the changes in
the knowledge, skills and attitudes of the learners to the organization management with any
recommendations deemed necessary. The review would include consideration of the
effectiveness of the content of the programme and the effectiveness of the methods used to
enable learning, that is whether the programme satisfied the objectives of the programme and
those of the learners.

9. Continue to provide effective learning opportunities as required by the organization.

10. Enable their own CPD (Continuing Professional Development) by all possible
developmental means - training programmes and self -development methods.

11. Arrange and run educative workshops for line managers on the subject of their fulfillment
of their training and evaluation responsibilities.

Dependant on the circumstances and the decisions of the organization management, trainers
do not, under normal circumstances:

1. Make organizational training decisions without the full agreement of the organizational

2. Take part in the post-programme learning implementation or evaluation unless the learners'
line managers cannot or will not fulfil their training and evaluation responsibilities.

As a final reminder, unless circumstances force them to behave otherwise, the trainer's role is
to provide effective training programmes and the role of the learners' line managers is to
continue the evaluation process after the training programme, counsel and support the learner
in the implementation of their learning, and assess the cost-value effectiveness or (where
feasible) the ROI of the training. Naturally, if action will help the trainers to become more
effective in their training, they can take part in but not run any pre- and post-programme
actions as described, always remembering that these are the responsibilities of the line

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a note about ROI (return on investment) in training

Attempting financial ROI assessment of training is a controversial issue. It's a difficult task to
do in absolute terms due to the many aspects to be taken into account, some of which are
very difficult to quantify at all, let alone to define in precise financial terms. Investment - the
cost - in training may be easier to identify, but the benefits - the return - are notoriously tricky
to pin down. What value do you place on improved morale? Reduced stress levels? Longer
careers? Better qualified staff? Improved time management? All of these can be benefits -
returns - on training investment. Attaching a value and relating this to a single cause, ie,
training, is often impossible. At best therefore, many training ROI assessments are necessarily
'best estimates'.

If ROI-type measures are required in areas where reliable financial assessment is not possible,
it's advisable to agree a 'best possible' approach, or a 'notional indicator' and then ensure
this is used consistently from occasion to occasion, year on year, course to course,
allowing at least a comparison of like with like to be made, and trends to be spotted, even if
financial data is not absolutely accurate.

In the absence of absolutely quantifiable data, find something that will provide a useful if
notional indication. For example, after training sales people, the increased number and
value of new sales made is an indicator of sorts. After motivational or team-building
training, reduced absentee rates would be an expected output. After an extensive
management development programme, the increase in internal management
promotions would be a measurable return. Find something to measure, rather than say it
can't be done at all, but be pragmatic and limit the time and resource spent according to the
accuracy and reliability of the input and output data. Also, refer to the very original Training
Needs Analysis that prompted the training itself - what were the business performance factors
that the training sought to improve? Use these original drivers to measure and relate to
organizational return achieved.

The problems in assessing ROI are more challenging in public and non-profit-making
organizations - government departments, charities, voluntary bodies, etc. ROI assessment in
these environments can be so difficult as to be insurmountable, so that the organization
remains satisfied with general approximations or vague comparisons, or accepts wider forms
of justification for the training without invoking detailed costing.

None of this is to say that cost- and value-effectiveness assessment should not be attempted.
At the very least, direct costs must be controlled within agreed budgets, and if it is possible,
attempts at more detailed returns should be made.

It may be of some consolation to know that Jack Philips, an American ROI 'guru', recently
commented about training ROI: "Organisations should be considering implementing ROI
impact studies very selectively on only 5 to 10 per cent of their training programme, otherwise

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it becomes incredibly expensive and resource intensive."

This article is contributed by Leslie Rae, MPhil, Chartered FCIPD, FITOL, which is gratefully
acknowledged. Leslie Rae welcomes comments about this article and enquiries about the
subject of training and its evaluation, and can be contacted via businessballs or direct:
Wrae804418 at aol dot com

See also:

Kirkpatrick's learning evaluation model

Bloom's Taxonomy of learning domains

and the main businessballs website, if you are not already there

leslie rae's further references and recommended

Annett, Duncan, Stammers and Gray, Task Analysis, Training Information Paper 6, HMSO,

Bartram, S. and Gibson, B., Training Needs Analysis, 2nd edition, Gower, 1997.

Bartram, S. and Gibson, B., Evaluating Training, Gower, 1999.

Bee, Frances and Roland, Training Needs Analysis and Evaluation, Institute of Personnel and
Development, 1994.

Boydell, T. H., A Guide to the Identification of Training Needs, BACIE, 1976.

Boydell, T. H., A Guide to Job Analysis, BACIE, 1970. A companion booklet to A Guide to the
Identification of Training Needs.

Bramley, Peter, Evaluating Training Effectiveness, McGraw-Hill, 1990.

Buckley, Roger and Caple, Jim, The Theory and Practice of Training, Kogan Page, 1990.
(Chapters 8 and 9)

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Craig, Malcolm, Analysing Learning Needs, Gower, 1994.

Davies, I. K., The Management of Learning, McGraw-Hill, 1971. (Chapters 14 and 15.)

Easterby -Smith, M., Braiden, E. M. and Ashton, D., Auditing Management Development,
Gower, 1980.

Easterby -Smith, M., 'How to Use Repertory Grids in HRD', Journal of European Industrial
Training, Vol 4, No 2, 1980.

Easterby -Smith, M., Evaluating Management Development, Training and Education, 2nd
edition, Gower, 1994.

Fletcher, Shirley, NVQs Standards and Competence, 2nd edition, Kogan Page, 1994.

Hamblin, A. C., The Evaluation and Control of Training, McGraw-Hill, 1974.

Honey, P., 'The Repertory Grid in Action', Industrial and Commercial Training, Vol II, Nos 9, 10
and 11, 1979.

ITOL, A Glossary of UK Training and Occupational Learning Terms, ed. J. Brooks, ITOL, 2000.

Kelly, G.A., The Psychology of Personal Constructs, Norton, 1953.

Kirkpatrick, D. L., 'Evaluation of Training', in Training and Development Handbook, edited by

R. L. Craig, McGraw-Hill, 1976.

Kirkpatrick, D.L., Evaluating Training Programs: The four levels, Berrett-Koehler, 1996.

Laird, D., Approaches to Training and Development, Addison-Wesley, 1978. (Chapters 15 and

Mager, R. F., Preparing Objectives for Programmed Instruction, Fearon, 1962. (Later re-titled:
Preparing Instructional Objectives, Fearon, 1975.)

Manpower Services Commission, 'A Glossary of Training Terms', HMSO, 1981.

Newby, Tony, Validating Your Training, Kogan Page Practical Trainer Series, 1992.

Odiorne, G. S., Training by Objectives, Macmillan, 1970.

Parker, T. C., 'Statistical Methods for Measuring Training Results', in Training and Development
Handbook, edited by R. L. Craig, McGraw -Hill, 1976.

Peterson, Robyn, Training Needs Analysis in the Workplace, Kogan Page Practical Trainer
Series, 1992.

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Philips, J. Handbook of Training Evaluation and Measurement, 3rd edition, Butterworth-

Heinemann, 1977

Philips, J. Return on Investment in training and Performance Improvement Programs.

Butterworth-Heinemann, 1977

Philips, P.P.P. Understanding the Basics of Return on Investment in Training, Kogan-Page,2002

Prior, John (ed.), Handbook of Training and Development, 2nd edition, Gower, 1994.

Rackham, N. and Morgan, T., Behaviour Analysis in Training, McGraw-Hill, 1977.

Rackham, N. et al., Developing Interactive Skills, Wellens, 1971.

Rae, L., 'Towards a More Valid End-of-Course Validation', The Training Officer, October 1983.

Rae, L., The Skills of Human Relations Training, Gower, 1985.

Rae, L., 'How Valid is Validation?', Industrial and Commercial Training, Jan.-Feb., 1985.

Rae, L., Using Evaluation in Training and Development, Kogan Page, 1999.

Rae, L., Effective Planning in Training and Development, Kogan Page, 2000.

Rae, L., Training Evaluation Toolkit, Echelon Learning, 2001.

Rae, L., Trainer Assessment, Gower, 2002.

Rae, L., Techniques of Training, 3rd edition, Gower, 1995. (Chapter 10.)

Robinson, K. R., A Handbook of Training Management, Kogan Page, 1981. (Chapter 7.)

Schmalenbach, Martin, 'The Death of ROI and the Rise of a New Management Paradigm',

Journal of the Institute of Training and Occupational Learning, Vol. 3, No.1, 2002.

Sheal, P. R., How to Develop and Present Staff Training Courses, Kogan Page, 1989.

Smith, M. and Ashton, D., 'Using Repertory Grid Techniques to Evaluate Management
Training', Personnel Review, Vol 4, No 4, 1975.

Stewart, V. and Stewart A., Managing the Manager's Growth, Gower, 1978. (Chapter 13.)

Thurley, K. E., and Wirdenius, H., Supervision: a Re -appraisal, Heinemann, 1973.

Warr, P. B., Bird, M. and Rackham, N., The Evaluation of Management Training, Gower, 1970.

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Whitelaw, M., The Evaluation of Management Training: a Review, Institute of Personnel

Management, 1972.

Wills, Mike, Managing the Training Process, McGraw -Hill, 1993.

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