The Factors That Affect Training Design

Written by wayne smith
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A host of factors influence the design of training. These range from the conceptual–such as clear definition of training outcomes--to the practical–such as logistical considerations. By addressing key issues before and during the design phase, the training designer can both increase course effectiveness and speed implementation.

Overall Goals of Training

Define the fundamental goals of training. Identify the domain of learning to be targeted: knowledge, skills, attitude or behaviour. Determine any emotional factors to be addressed. Determine if specific skills are to be taught that will require practice and can be measured.

Learning Objectives

Determine the specific desired outcomes of the training. Answer the question: Upon completion of this training, what should a participant know and be able to do? Define what constitutes successful course completion. Identify the core skills, knowledge and attitudes that are at the heart of the course.

Course Content

Determine the amount of research and the expertise needed to develop and teach relevant, timely and up-to-date content. Estimate the length of time that the content will maintain its relevance. Determine the total number of trainees and the number that can be taught at one time. Determine the best learning method for the course content.

Course Lifetime

Determine the schedule, including frequency of training. Develop a way to test the objectives, materials and content for continued relevance. Establish a means to revise and update the course, particularly if it is expected to have significant longevity.

Design Needs

Ascertain whether this will be a new training or if there is an existing course to be updated. Identify training designers. Determine development time and cost. See how diversity requirements (different learning styles, language, cultural backgrounds, physical needs, etc.) will influence the training. Discover any necessary permissions needed for incorporation of materials into the course. Find out if any restrictions imposed by training locations or participant availability will affect design.


Determine the size, location and characteristics of the target population. Find out their current level of experience and expertise with the topic. Make certain that they meet course prerequisites. Identify any technology needs or requirements.


Understand what it will take to authentically engage participants, to inspire them to enjoy and apply the learning. Find ways to incorporate creativity and laughter. Ensure that instructors are competent and compatible with their audiences.


Determine how many instructors will be needed, how they will be trained, their scheduling requirements, how much preparation time they will need and how much travel will be required.

Determine space and location requirements. Determine the time required for training and define course segments, if necessary. (For example, will an eight-hour course be taught in one-hour segments over several weeks, or in two half-day blocks?)

Identify costs: facilities, materials, instructors, travel and meals both for participants and instructors, software, and presentation equipment (computers, TV, video, microphones, etc.). Identify any subject-matter experts required for training development. Determine technology requirements: new software or upgrades, computer and application access for participants, complex installations or technology management that will require technical expertise. Determine administrative and communication requirements and identify resources.

Evaluation Factors

Identify what outcomes must be measured and determine how to measure them. Develop or obtain any evaluation tests, questionnaires or on-the-job assessments to be used in determining training effectiveness.

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