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Kirkpatrick’s Training Evaluation Model | How to Evaluate Training Effectiveness

In my experience, it’s not uncommon for me as an employee to fill up evaluation forms after attending a company sponsored training. However, these evaluation forms tend to only measure the immediate reaction to the training.

But if you only measure the immediate reaction, you’re not checking if learning has occurred and if it has translated into behaviour.

Which should be the point of the training in the first place.

Conducting a proper evaluation will aid in identifying if the training has shown to be effective and will help to identify areas for improvement for future iterations.

A common framework for evaluation is the Kirkpatrick Model which consists of four levels:

  1. Reaction which evaluates satisfaction with the training
  2. Learning which evaluates effectiveness of learning transfer
  3. Behaviour which evaluates impact of training on behaviour
  4. Results which evaluates impact of training on the business

Level 1: Reaction

This is the most common type of evaluation and involves measuring the satisfaction of the employees on the delivery and administrative portion of the training.

These are usually in a form of a questionnaire also known as a “happy sheet” which asks employees what they were satisfied or dissatisfied with in the conduct of the training and what they felt could be improved.

Level 2: Learning

It is at this level that we start to move beyond surface level evaluations. Here, the learning is being assessed.

There are various options available when it comes to assessing learning, from a post-training test that is measured against a pretraining test score or judging the employee’s performance through observation in an authentic workplace setting.

Level 3: Behaviour

At this level, you question if the training intervention resulted in a change in the behaviour of the employee. The entire point of the training is to provide the knowledge skills and abilities to change behaviours that result in performance gaps.

Simply put, the evaluation is looking for any impact from the training.

Level 4: Results

This is where the training is gauged on its impact on the organizational outcomes.

Key performance indicators include an increase in productivity or output, improved quality of service or products and a higher sales volume.

Do note that less than favourable results in the evaluation could be a problem with the TNA.

At the Reaction level, a lack of satisfaction could be a misjudgment of the appropriate training methods or having forced too much or too little content in too short a time frame. Or it could simply be a case of an uninspiring training environment.

While poor results at the learning level could be indicative of a learning method ill-suited for the training intervention.

More importantly, a lack of positive effect on performance might be due to a lapse in the TNA process which led to the incorrect identification of performance gaps.

While it’s important to evaluate any training, you’ll need to do a training needs analysis before even implementing a training intervention.

Training is not always the answer!