If you have an employer, your level of effectiveness on the job will be evaluated at least once a year. As a result of this evaluation you will receive praise, information on areas that need improving, and probably a pay raise. Since I am self-employed, I need to get my job evaluation from my customers, the people who come to my dog classes.
My first evaluation form was created after reading a NADOI Notes column in 1989 written by Lonnie Olson (author of Flyball: A Dog Sport For Everyone and past president of NADOI). Why reinvent the wheel; so here are some of the suggestions Lonnie made for creating an evaluation questionnaire.
First, find out how many classes the student attended and ask how many days the student did the homework. This will give you an idea as to what type of student this person really was. You might be interested in knowing if the student will be taking more classes from your organization. You may want to send out class announcements to those who answer yes. Would the student recommend your training center to friends who are in need of a trainer? A “yes” answer to this question will let you know the student was satisfied and will also plant the seed of recommendation.
• The next questions should be about the class:
• What exercise did your dog find the most difficult?
• What exercise was the most interesting to learn?
• What aspect of the class did you like the least?
• What aspect did you like the most?
• Do you have any suggestions for improvement?
• Did you receive enough personal attention during the classes?
The answers to these questions will help you keep your classes user friendly. After teaching dog classes for ten years, I really don’t have a good perception of what would be the most difficult exercise for a first time dog owner. (According to the answers to my questionnaires, the most difficult part of the class is getting their dog to behave around other dogs.)
You may also want to add some questions about how the students felt about you and your assistants, if you have them. This would best be done by a numbered evaluation (such as 1, 2, 3, 4 with 1 being the best and 4 the worst.) Then have the students rate your attitude, preparation, class handouts, appearance, ability, and availability, to name a few.
When creating your evaluation form keep the questions as simple as possible. The easier it is for your students to understand the questions, the more truthful and useful the answers will be for you. Once you have the filled out questionnaires in hand, take a deep breath and sit down to discover what your students thought of your classes.
Here is a sampling of some of the responses I have gotten from my evaluations:
What is the greatest benefit you derived from class?
Dutch and I are much closer than we were at the beginning of class.
Interaction with other people and dogs.
Members of our family learned to be consistent with commands and expectations, comments, criticisms, and suggestions.
On the second night nobody helped me handle Mylo as he was biting my hand.
I liked the pace of the class, the variety was nice. Could you give advanced notice and let the class bring questions on certain nights regarding behavior problems (aggression, timidity, other?)
Please don’t mix dogs from other classes on graduation night!
Have evening classes start a little later. Have classes last eight weeks instead of six.
You get the idea. I take the information I get in the evaluation and use it to try and improve my classes. Every new or repeat customer (and each referral) is like a pay raise for me, so I keep trying to improve the service I have to offer.
©1996 Carol Cronan (Gannaway)