In the Kirkpatrick Four Levels evaluation model, each level provides valuable information that together creates a
“chain of evidence” for the effectiveness of a program.
Assessing training effectiveness often entails using the Kirkpatrick four levels developed by Dr. Donald L. Kirkpatrick in 1954. According to this model, evaluation begins with level one, and moves sequentially through levels two, three and four.
Level 1 Evaluation – Reaction
Just as the word implies, evaluation at this level measures how participants in a training program react to it. It attempts to answer questions regarding the participants’ perceptions – Did they like it? Was the material relevant to their work? This type of evaluation is often called a “smile sheet.” According to Kirkpatrick, nearly every program should be evaluated at this level because it is generally fast, easy and inexpensive. In addition, the participants’ reactions have important consequences for learning (level two). Although a positive reaction does not guarantee learning, a negative reaction almost certainly reduces its possibility.
Level 2 Evaluation – Learning
To assess the amount of learning that has occurred due to a training program, level two evaluations often use tests conducted before training (pretest) and after training (post test).
Assessing at this level moves the evaluation beyond learner satisfaction and attempts to assess the extent to which students have advanced in skills, knowledge or attitude. Measurement at this level is quite simple because most of the activities and interaction during a learning program are also measurements of learning. Methods range from formal to informal testing to team assessment and self-assessment. Pre- and post-tests have in the past been recommended; in the work world this is seldom required nor practical. Most organizations are satisfied to see that learning was documented, regardless of the level of knowledge of participants at the start of the program.
Level 3 Evaluation – Behavior
This level measures the transfer that has occurred in learners’ behavior due to the training program. Evaluating at this level attempts to answer the question – Are the newly acquired skills, knowledge, or attitude being used in the everyday environment of the learner? For many trainers this level represents the truest assessment of a program’s effectiveness. Measurement at this level is not as difficult as historical writings would suggest. Creating methods of reinforcement and follow-up during training program design is a best practice that facilitates Level 3 execution. From there, Level 3 is largely the responsibility of the business managers and supervisors to which the training participants report. The role of the training professional is to prepare managers and supervisors as much as possible for this role. Decisions should be made as a team in terms of when, how often, and how to evaluate if training graduates are performing the desired behaviors on the job.
Level 4 Evaluation – Results
Level four evaluation measures the impact of training and subsequent reinforcement on business results.
Frequently thought of as “the bottom line,” this level measures the success of the program in terms that managers and executives can understand – increased production, improved quality, decreased costs, increased sales and even higher profits. From a business and organizational perspective, this is the overall reason for a training program, yet level four results are not typically addressed. Determining results in financial terms is not always something training professionals are comfortable attempting; therefore it is not done to the degree that training expenditures warrant.
Methods for Long-term Evaluation
Source: Encyclopedea of Educational Technology
as originally submitted to the Forum by K.sathya Narayanan
Edited by Wendy Kirkpatrick, Kirkpatrick Partners. Kirkpatrick Four Levels is a registered trademark of Kirkpatrick Partners LLC. All rights reserved. Used by permission.