Kirk Patrick’s Model of Training Evaluation

Every year organisations spend a hefty amount of money on training their employees at different levels and on different competencies, both technical and behavioural. Hence new tools are designed every year to try and cater to different individual learning styles, thereby making training more effective. This way it also becomes easier to track the organisation’s return on investment.

Donald Kirkpatrick has primarily contributed to the field of training in this aspect. Being a professor at the University of Wisconsin, he started his commendable work on evaluating the effectiveness of training quite early in his life. 1959, his work on this subject was published in a journal of American Society of Training Directors. For the process of evaluation of any training, he’d laid out four levels that are arguably the most widespread in the assessment in use. Not just simple, but they’re also very flexible and precise. The four levels as often referred to as Kirk Patrick’s Model of Training Evaluation are as follows:

  1. Reaction of the Trainee – the participants’ thoughts and feelings about the training
  2. Learning – the increase in knowledge or understanding that the training imparts
  3. Behaviour – the extent of change in attitude, capability or behaviour
  4. Results – the effect on the company’s bottom line as a result of the training.

A fifth level has been recently added and is the ROI. The best part about this model is that only when the lower level prediction is complete, can each level can only be predicted. In simple words, evaluation at the level of behaviour will not be useful unless evaluation at the level of knowledge has been completed.

Reaction implies how well the participants have responded to the training program. Mainly quantitative, this evaluation is feedback to both the training and the trainer. The most common collection tool is the questionnaire that analyses the course content, facilities and methodology.

At this level, the evaluation is done on the basis of change in the ASK (Attitudes, skills and knowledge) of the trainees. The level evaluates the observation and analysis of the voice, behaviour, text. Apart from observation, other tools used are surveys, interviews, pre and post-tests, etc.

The transfer of the information learned, from the training session to the workplace is what the behaviour evaluation analyses. The primary tool used here is observation. Apart from that, a combination of 360 feedbacks and questionnaires are also used.

The results stage directs evaluations towards the bottom line of the company. The result is based on the goal of the training program. In this case, the evaluation is done by using a control group and allowing a certain time for achieving the results.

While many other models are available for use, we at Challenging Horizons’ use Kirkpatrick’s Model of Training Evaluation as it is used and accepted widely across all industries and has proven to be one of the most effective methods so far.