HRD evaluation is defined as “the systematic collection of descriptive and judg- mental information necessary to make effective training decisions related to the selection, adoption, value, and modification of various instructional activities.”

This definition makes several points. First, when conducting an evaluation, both descriptive and judgmental information may be collected. Descriptive information provides a picture of what is happening or has happened, whereas judgmental

information communicates some opinion or belief about what has happened. For example, the statement “25 percent of first-line supervisors attended a budgeting workshop in the last year” contains only descriptive information; it simply states the facts. Similarly, a statement that “20 percent fewer supervisors attended this workshop than in the previous twelve months” also contains descriptive informa- tion. However, the statement, “the turnout for the budgeting workshop over the last six months is disappointingly low compared to last year’s turnout” provides judgmental information—someone’s opinion based on the facts. Both descriptive and judgmental information are needed in HRD evaluation. Some judgments are made by those involved in the program, whereas individuals not involved in the program make others.

Second, evaluation involves the systematic collection of information according to a predetermined plan to ensure the information is appropriate and useful. Finally, evaluation is conducted to help managers, employees, and HRD profes- sionals make informed decisions about particular programs and methods. For example, if part of a program is ineffective, it may need to be changed or dis- carded; if a certain program proves valuable, it may be replicated in other parts of the organization.

Evaluation can serve a number of purposes within the organization. Accord- ing to Phillips, evaluation can help to:

• Determine whether a program is accomplishing its objectives

• Identify the strengths and weaknesses of HRD programs, which can lead to changes, as needed

• Determine the cost-benefit ratio of an HRD program

• Decide who should participate in future HRD programs

• Identify which participants benefited the most or least from the program

• Gather data to assist in marketing future programs

• Establish a database to assist management in making decision

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