What Makes a Writing Workshop Effective?

Often at the end of a workshop, you’ll be asked to complete an evaluation sheet. These sheets tend to only focus on whether you found the training favorable or engaging. However, if you’re attending a workshop with the intention of learning something, shouldn’t you be focusing on what you’ve learned, as opposed to how much you liked it?

How Can We Measure Learning?

When looking at this level of evaluation, we are asking if you’ve actually learned what you were supposed to in the training. For example, if one of the learning objectives states that you will be able to create clear and concise emails with effective subject lines, salutations and closings, then learning means you can create clear and concise emails on your own by the end of training.

One way to ensure you’ve learned what you are supposed to is by using learning activities throughout the training. The best training is not simply talking at people and sending them back to work. Every time you learn something new, you need time in the session to practice it. With bigger or more complicated skills, these should be broken down into smaller tasks, so your learning can be evaluated throughout the training day.

Going back to our email example, after training, learners might be asked to submit an email to the instructor for feedback. This way, you can know if you’ve formatted it well and included all the relevant content. You should get feedback on what you’ve done well and what can be improved for next time.

If you aren’t given the time to practice new skills or demonstrate your knowledge while in the training environment, you will never know if you’ve learned anything at all. Also, activities to help measure your learning will also help you retain what you have learned when you go back to work.

Before you register for your next workshop, ask the provider these questions:

  • What activities will we be doing to practise the skills that I am learning?
  • How will I demonstrate what I’ve learned during the workshop?
  • How will I receive feedback on my progress?