Measuring Attitudes

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Darryl L. Sink and Associates, Inc. (DSA) helps organizations design and develop learning and performance solutions that get results. DSA works cooperatively with organizations to:

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In the last tips article "How Do You Feel?", we explored writing objectives based on the affective domain. The affective domain deals with the feelings and attitudes we want as outcomes of our learning programs. In this tips article, let's take a look at measuring attitudes.

Why should you care? Well, ask yourself this: Would you be satisfied with your training program if the learners mastered all the cognitive skills but did not use the skills when they returned to the job? That's exactly why the affective part of the training is so important.

How do we Measure Attitude?

Criterion-referenced items and checklists are used to measure objectives in the cognitive and psychomotor domains. Observable and measurable behaviors are specified in the learning objective and the criterion-referenced tests are used to evaluate the behaviors.

In the affective domain, course developers strive to do the same thing. However, the affective domain has some special considerations.

A critically important consideration, when measuring affective objectives, is that the behaviors must be voluntary. We cannot use the learners' attitudes, values, or feelings to give raises, promotions, or special privileges. If the learner is coerced in any way, we are not getting an accurate reading of how the learner feels. Rather, our goal when measuring affective behaviors is to determine if our training has been effective in changing the learners' attitudes. In order to determine this, the learner must be able to respond freely and voluntarily without fear of reproach or reprisal.

There are two primary ways to evaluate affective behaviors: direct observation and self-report. While direct observation is preferred, self-report is often the only viable option. Questionnaires are typically used to measure self-report behaviors in the affective domain.

Ways to Measure Affective Behavior

Direct observation is watching learners on-the-job or in the training to determine if they exhibit any of the approach behaviors that they did not exhibit prior to the training.

See you next time,