Interesting Perspective on the Defense Acquisition University
Interesting article last week from the Association for Talent Development (ATD) entitled “Debunking Two Myths About Learning Evaluation and Alignment”.
In the article, the author cites the example of the Defense Acquisition University (DAU) to debunk the second of the two myths that she identifies as “Myth 2: In the Real World, Learning Alignment Cannot Be Achieved”, saying:
“Learning alignment can be complex. Evidence shows that organizations that evaluate learning consistently are able to better align their learning goals to their strategic goals and move the dial. One such organization is the Defense Acquisition University (DAU), which during the past decade has made significant strides in learning evaluation.
DAU serves the defense (community) with a mission to “provide a global learning environment to develop qualified acquisition, requirements and contingency professionals who deliver and sustain effective and affordable warfighting capabilities.” In 2015, DAU graduated 173,773 professionals, delivering more than 7 million hours of learning and 310 online learning modules with 700,000 completions.
Today, DAU is recognized as a best-in-class organization for learning alignment. It has won 26 awards, including the Best Overall Corporate University in World by the Global Council of Corporate Universities (GCCU), Corporate University Award of the Year for North America by CUBIC (Corporate University Best in Class), Elearning Top 100 Best Government Organization, Brandon Hall and CLO LearningElite Award. DAU focused on aligning learning with strategy not to increase profits, as most other learning organizations do, but to ensure the safety of the nation.
“In this business, we cannot afford to be second place. As our workforce is successful, so are the men and women of our Armed Forces. Their success in training and on the job ultimately translates to the safety of our nation and the achievement of our national interests” says Dr. Christopher Hardy, director of strategic planning and analytics at DAU.
DAU uses the Kirkpatrick Model to evaluate learning and deploys Metrics that Matter–CEB surveys immediately following a course to evaluate the first two levels of Kirkpatrick’s model (Level 1: Reaction and Level 2: Learning) which it defines as consumptive metrics. After 60 days, DAU sends out another survey to check in with learners and their supervisors to evaluate learning pertaining to Level 3 (Application) and Level 4 (Business Impact) of the Kirkpatrick Model.
DAU deploys text mining on some 50,000 surveys to identify patterns in learner responses on particular courses and to analyze root causes in low performing courses. This approach ultimately drives learning content improvement and strengthens alignment of such learning content with the strategic goals of the Department of Defense. The DAU example shows that learning can be evaluated effectively and aligned to strategy and clearly debunks Myth #2.
Bottom line: By debunking these two myths, we have provided some guidance for evidence-based reflection and analysis in your organization—just in time for your 2017 talent development strategy planning meetings with your team and CEO.”