Donald Kirkpatrick, Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin and past president of the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), first published his Four-Level Training Evaluation Model in 1959, in the US Training and Development Journal. The model was then updated in 1975, and again in 1994, when he published his best-known work, "Evaluating Training Programs." The four levels are:
Let's look at each level in greater detail.
Level 1: Reaction
This level measures how your trainees (the people being trained), reacted to the training. Obviously, you want them to feel that the training was a valuable experience, and you want them to feel good about the instructor, the topic, the material, its presentation, and the venue. It's important to measure reaction, because it helps you understand how well the training was received by your audience. It also helps you improve the training for future trainees, including identifying important areas or topics that are missing from the training. Level 2: Learning
At level 2, you measure what your trainees have learned. How much has their knowledge increased as a result of the training? When you planned the training session, you hopefully started with a list of specific learning objectives: these should be the starting point for your measurement. Keep in mind that you can measure learning in different ways depending on these objectives, and depending on whether you're interested in changes to knowledge, skills, or attitude. It's important to measure this, because knowing what your trainees are learning and what they aren't will help you improve future training. Level 3: Behavior
At this level, you evaluate how far your trainees have changed their behavior, based on the training they received. Specifically, this looks at how trainees apply the information. It's important to realize that behavior can only change if conditions are favorable. For instance, imagine you've skipped measurement at the first two Kirkpatrick levels and, when looking at your group's behavior, you determine that no behavior change has taken place. Therefore, you assume that your trainees haven't learned anything and that the training was ineffective. However, just because behavior hasn't changed, it doesn't mean that trainees haven't learned anything. Perhaps their boss won't let them apply new knowledge. Or, maybe they've learned everything you taught, but they have no desire to apply the knowledge themselves. Level 4: Results
At this level, you analyze the final results of your training. This includes outcomes that you or your organization have determined to be good for business, good for the employees, or good for the bottom line.
How to Apply the Model
Level 1: Reaction
Start by identifying how you'll measure reaction. Consider addressing these questions: Did the trainees feel that the training was worth their time? Did they think that it was successful?
What were the biggest strengths of the training, and the biggest weaknesses? Did they like the venue and presentation style?
Did the training session accommodate their personal learning styles? Next, identify how you want to measure these reactions. To do this you'll typically useemployee satisfaction surveys or questionnaires; however you can also watch...