The 3 Stages of Measuring Learning Participation

May 30 2023
5 min read
The 3 Stages of Measuring Learning Participation

Measuring the learning participation rates of workplace L&D programs is an important part of HR’s job. We’re talking about the combination of two ideas here: engagement, and workplace training metrics. Every learning and development program needs to answer organizational goals with skills that also match the career objectives of the employee. Plus, the attitude of workers towards their training programs is a form of engagement. So it’s a win-win: the methods you use to measure learning participation will let you know how you’re doing in terms of both engagement and skill building. 

Learning Participation and Engagement

You can lead an employee to a course, but you can’t make them learn. At some organizations, there are compulsory courses where it’s expected that workers do their best, because their position at the company depends on it. But the true test of a quality learning program is when it is optional. 

Why is this important? 

  • Many employees who do well in self-selected courses are motivated because they want to progress. In other words, they are engaged. Those who avoid voluntary L&D, or do poorly, are showing signs that either they are lazy, or they don’t see a need. Time for an engagement initiative!
  • It’s critical to evaluate L&D programs to check if they are effective. Otherwise, the organization’s money goes down the drain while its skills gap gets wider. You might notice that workers still don’t have the right skills after sending them to an L&D program. Assessing their participation levels lets you know if the course is to blame, or employee attitudes. 

Methods of Measuring Participation

Measuring participation is not the same as assessing outcomes. In a way, it’s similar to comparing productivity to job satisfaction.  A productive worker is not always happy, or vice versa. “Participation” in this context means that the employee found the course to be informative and interesting, and would like to continue to learn.  

The goal of participation measurement is to determine if employees are satisfied in various ways with L&D initiatives. Any effective method will be applied in three stages: before, during, and after.


It’s highly recommended to evaluate employee skill levels before a course begins in order to establish a baseline for later use. The same concept can be applied to participation. The question here is, “are we doing a good job at spreading the word about courses?”

Answers can be found by looking at sign-up statistics. How many eligible employees enroll for a new course? How long does it take for them to sign up? Do all of them show up on time for the first lesson? 

You will need to account for workloads and managerial attitudes if the numbers are on the low side. While these don’t directly relate to participation, they are still factors that hamper enrollment, and need to be addressed.   


As with all L&D courses, looking at the situation mid-way lets you understand if things are going according to plan, or if drastic changes need to be made. While you’re doing that, you should also check on participation levels by:

  • Tracking abandonment rates. A strong indicator that employees aren’t sticking with the program is that they are no longer logging in or showing up, or only doing so periodically. As mentioned above, you need to account for scheduling and management issues that may have forced the employee to choose between the course and their regular tasks. 
  • Assessing learning frequency. A great course will inspire employees to attend often. In the case of online courses, if you see that they are progressing through the material faster than you expected, that’s probably a good sign.
  • Monitoring forums. A well-designed L&D course will feature forums so that employees can discuss the material and help each other. But they are also used to express opinions. Checking out the general feeling about employee attitudes towards their learning is a slightly sneaky–but effective–way to improve a course. 


Evaluations don’t end once the course is complete. The names of the game here are feelings of enjoyment and benefit, which can only be judged over time. So you need to examine how workers felt at the end of a program, and if this influenced them in the long term. In any case, here are some facts to analyze:

  • Completion rates. There’s a good chance that you won’t see a 100% completion rate. But before thinking of this as a problem, you should check on the nature of the course. For example, if it was a course with plenty of demonstrations and examples, it could be that the “non-finishers” got the hang of the subject quickly and did not need to see everything. 
  • Surveys. As a standard step after every L&D initiative, surveys should cover various aspects of the course, such as quality of instruction and usefulness in the employee’s role. But don’t forget to ask about participation levels. Maybe the simplest way to gauge an employee’s interest is to ask “would you recommend this course to a coworker?”
  • Continuing education rates. This is perhaps the best measure of participation. Once the “baseline” course is over, do employees voluntarily sign up for more lessons? Of what type? And how soon after they completed the original course?    

Learning with Growthspace

Growthspace uses an easier method to measure learning participation. The platform prompts employees to answer six questions on a 1-5 scale. It takes only minutes, is completely intuitive, and can be understood by all L&D stakeholders. 

This type of simplicity is the goal of Growthspace’s overall approach to learning and development. Through a single platform, HR can manage all aspects of arranging and running workplace training courses. But underneath its common-sense usability is a technology that’s changing the L&D landscape.   

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