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Marijn De Geus


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Evaluating a Training Program Like Kirkpatrick


Are you aware of the success of your training programs? Professor Donald Kirkpatrick asked this question in 1954 and developed four levels of training evaluation to answer it. They are more relevant than ever, now that they have been updated. How would you evaluate your training program based on these levels?​

Level 1: Reaction

According to Kirkpatrick, the first evaluation is the participants’ opinion: Did they find the training program enjoyable and relevant? The updated version of Kirkpatrick’s model specifies that this level is concerned with the learners’ commitment and contribution to the learning experience (engagement) and their ability to apply the learned elements in their job (relevance). Reaction can be measured using a simple survey, and, therefore, it is the way most training programs are evaluated. However, this level only measures part of the success of a training program.

Level 2: Learning

The second level evaluates whether the participants acquired knowledge, skills, attitudes, self-confidence and commitment, based on their participation. You can measure learning by presenting the participants with these statements:

  • I know how to do it.
  • I am able to do it.
  • I believe it’s useful to do it.
  • I think I will be able to do it at work.
  • I will do it at work.

Level 3: Behavior

The next step concerns behavior: Are the participants actually applying the new knowledge or skills in their daily work? According to Kirkpatrick, behavior can be measured in the workplace about three to six months after the training program by asking questions like these: Are the employees actually giving specific feedback to each other? Are they listening to the customer better? The manager can notice, encourage or reward behavior, but behavior can also be observed and measured by an L&D employee, by colleagues or even by customers.

Level 4: Results

The fourth level evaluates the final results as a consequence of the training program. For example, have revenue or the net promoter score increased? This level is sometimes measured in the short term, but the significant question is whether or not the training program has actually contributed to the operating results or accomplished important goals. For these long-term results, there are more factors at play than the training program alone, which makes it more difficult to define the ROI.

Read an example of an analysis of a customer contact training program here. Consider the four levels and the type of evaluation at the conception of the training program, and include managers and team captains from that moment on.

Author Profile Picture
Marijn De Geus

Founder & CEO

Read more from Marijn De Geus

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