Ready for E-Learning? 4 Steps to Evaluate In-Person CHW Training Program

When it comes to training your healthcare team, the meaning of “success” isn’t always the same. Budget cuts, changes in workforce and differing work environments can mean that a format that worked in the past may not work now.

That’s why a regular evaluation of a community health worker training program is a smart move. Scheduled assessments mean your organization stands to earn the highest return on investment. Plus, paying attention to how well people are learning will boost your staff’s involvement in the overall educational program. For many health departments and health systems, the biggest question when it comes to evaluating a professional development program is when does it make sense to move to online training.

A helpful methodology for weighing the success of any learning process is the Kirkpatrick Four Levels Evaluation model first developed by an educator named Donald Kirkpatrick in 1959, and then published as part of a book in 1994 called Evaluating Training Programs. The model moves through four levels that cover the essentials of training programs. Evaluations with this model build–use the data gathered from each successive level to measure the effectiveness of the whole program.

Four-Level Evaluation Model

Carefully examining how your in-person program stacks up against each level will help you move to an online model more smoothly. Here’s what each evaluation leve looks like in depth.

Level 1: Reaction

The first step is to find out how well the participants liked the training. In short, if they hate it, it isn’t working. Look carefully at the evaluations you offer at the end of training, and also listen to anecdotal evidence. When you’re considering migrating to an online training program, make sure to find out if time away from the office and the expense of an in-person session factor in. Listening to how community health workers’ reactions to a program, in particular negative reactions, can have an effect on learning (level 2).

Level 2: Learning

Next, evaluate how well your CHW staff learned the material. Some of the best indicators for knowledge gain is pre-tests, post-tests and self-assessments, which should all align with the learning objectives you developed in advance. Ask participants the same questions before the training as after, and you’ll be able to see an increase or plateau of knowledge. If increase isn’t significant enough, it’s time to change something.

Level 3: Behavior

A better, but more involved, way to assess how well training is working is to look at behavior. Examining behavior will reveal if those newly acquired skills are being demonstrated on the job. Health worker supervisors can help determine if staff is demonstrating knowledge-gain, but look beyond supervisors to other indicators. For example offer surveys to clients to see how well they’re being served by CHWs, asking specific questions about new skills.

Level 4: Results

Finally, look at tangible results to see how well your program is working. Are CHWs serving more clients? Are they navigating through barriers to care? Are more clients attending health screenings? Is the an in-person program costing too much? Pulling together the data to examine results is more time consuming than the other levels, but numbers don’t lie.

Once you have pulled together data for the Four Levels Evaluation, you can more easily determine if it makes sense for your organization to move to an online format for training community health workers.

New Online Course from Cancer Resource Foundation Gives Prostate Health Team Members Convenient, Affordable Option to Gain Core Skills

Marlborough, MA, October 15, 2013 – Patient care teams that focus on prostate health now have another option to add to their training arsenal. Cancer Resource Foundation, a leader in educational resources for the cancer community, and organizers of the Boston Prostate Cancer Walk & 5K Run is now offering a new course, Core Competencies for the Prostate Health Team, beginning December 9. It is now open for registration, and the cost is $99 for the 6-week course.

“We are very excited about this new course,” says Mary Lou Woodford, chief executive officer and co-founder of Cancer Resource Foundation. “It will help teams build confidence in their delivery of high-quality prostate health. As healthcare reform evolves and integrated teams expand, it becomes important for all members to be trained in the core competencies of healthcare. This course is appropriate for all members of the prostate health team including, reception staff, medical technologists, patient navigators, health educators, community liaisons, and office managers. All members of the team will benefit from learning more about the core competencies needed to work with patients and providers.”

The course is based on a successful online curriculum developed by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health in collaboration with Massachusetts healthcare partners. It offers a foundation for those working in healthcare and particularly for any multidisciplinary team. The core competencies include organizational skills, documentation skills, health disparities, social determinants of health, assessment skills, and service coordination skills. The most current information about prostate health is covered, including prostate cancer prevention, screening and treatment, and shared decision-making.

Core Competencies for the Prostate Health Team is designed to prepare individuals to work collaboratively within their prostate health or men’s health team. It is an interactive, facilitated course covering the essential knowledge and skills required of all team members, both clinical and nonclinical. The course will prepare them to become active participants by assisting patients with healthcare options, offering appropriate prostate health education materials, building healthy patient-provider relationships, offering appropriate community-based resources, and supporting other team members.

“One advantage of this course is its accessibility,” says Woodford, who is offering it completely online through “The cutting-edge online interactive tools make it easy for each member of the prostate health team to access the content when and where it is convenient and at their own pace.

“Participants are getting the same high-caliber instruction they would through a university distance-learning program, conveniently and affordably,” adds Woodford, making Core Competencies for the Prostate Health Team a great option in lean budget times.

Woodford is leading a free informational session on the course November 12, 2013, at 2pm ET. Register at


For more information or to register for the courses, please visit Core Competencies for the Prostate Health Team.

About The Cancer Resource Foundation

The Cancer Resource Foundation Inc. (CRF) was established after its co-founders, President and Chair Karleen R. Habin, RN, BCCS, MPHC and Chief Executive Officer Mary Lou Woodford, RN, MBA, CCM, repeatedly experienced the overwhelming confusion that comes with navigating a cancer diagnosis. The CRF is a national 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization headquartered in Marlborough with the mission to advocate and provide support for the prevention, early detection, diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship of cancer through patient assistance, education and research. Learn more at

About Talance is a subsidiary of Talance, Inc. an e-learning company founded in 2000 with a focus on training for health organizations. utilizes modern e-learning tools and a standardized curriculum that provides students with an easy method of consuming course materials and receiving personalized feedback. Learn more at

Start Small When Switching from In-Person to Online Training

Blended learning for health workers

Deciding to train health workers in an online classroom versus a traditional in-person setting is the easiest part of the undertaking. Virtual learning is an easy answer to educating a quickly growing workforce that has restrictions on travel, time and money.

The difficult part is in the execution. Most training programs for healthcare teams offer live instruction, and converting those training materials into an online format is about as easy is it is to move from a house you’ve lived in for decades.

Begin with blended learning.

An easy way to begin is not to convert everything online. Keep a portion of your in-person training exactly how it is, and adopt a blended learning strategy. Blended learning mixes the best of training delivery methods to reach a variety of learning needs and varying subject matter. A live session allows for participants to meet each other and make connections with instructors and classmates that result in better retention. It can also be helpful for delivering material that’s better suited to in-person instruction.

For example, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Patient Navigation Online Course includes a 10-week online element that begins and concludes with face-to-face teaching. The instructors cover such topics as communication techniques in the group, which gives participants a chance to try out new found skills in a live setting. Other topics, such as documentation skills, convert easily to an online format.

Keep online training focused.

Many health-based organizations new to online learning fall into the trap of thinking they have to give learners everything that they previously included with in-person training. Not everything in the trainer’s toolkit needs to be delivered online.

Too many reading assignments and activities can take up too much time, and learners spend more time in the online course than applying their new job skills. Information overload can also be overwhelming, and some learners will lose focus and simply give up, even if the training is part of their job requirement.

Program administrators should remember to have faith that health employees will learn on the job. The reason you present them with theories and tools is so they can apply them in the community or clinical setting.

Set up a system where supervisors or coaches can guide recent participants through using those foundational skills on the job. Make sure they’re acquainted with all the training materials so they know what to evaluate for knowledge gain.

Follow these two tips, and you’ll find that switch to e-learning will result in a group of people curious and excited about a new learning format.

[Photo credit: Stephan Röhl on Flickr]

Complimentary E-book: CHW E-Learning Strategy Essentials

A Step-by-Step Strategy Guide for Training Community Health Workers Online

E-Learning Strategy Essentials A Step-by-Step Strategy Guide for Training Community Health Workers OnlineThings are moving fast in the world of training health workers: expansion of jobs, updates to health guidelines, changes in healthcare law–all in the midst of budget cutbacks and limited resources. Many organizations need a way of keeping their staff trained and are considering moving to an online training program. The big question is no longer, “Should we implement an e-learning program?” but, “How should we implement an e-learning program?”

We’ve laid out the six essential steps in building an e-learning strategy and explained what you need to do to put together a plan. In our complementary e-book “E-Learning Strategy Essentials: A Step-by-Step Strategy Guide for Training Community Health Workers Online,” we cover:

  • Conducting a needs assessment
  • Setting measurable goals
  • Attaining buy-in from leadership
  • Choosing the right technology
  • Implementing a winning staff
  • Analyzing and evaluating the program for continued success

Request your complimentary copy.

Please share this link with your friends and colleagues.

From Our Readers

“I was a professional trainer and I applaud you for this well-thought out, clear, concise, and succinct guide. I appreciate too its implications. It can be used in a multitude of social service and public health specialties.”

– Dr. Annette B. Collins, D.Min., J.D., Chicago, IL