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The Kirkpatrick Four-Level Training Evaluation Model

Kirkpatrick Levels - The Kirkpatrick Four-Level Training Evaluation Model

Kirkpatrick Levels - The Kirkpatrick Four-Level Training Evaluation ModelTraining is important. But how do you know if it has worked? That was the question that Donald Kirkpatrick tackled in his 1954 PhD dissertation. He looked at how industrial training can be evaluated and produced what is still the most widely-used training evaluation model in the world.

And, although Kirkpatrick Partners, under the leadership of his son and daughter-in-law, has modified the model to create the ‘New World Kirkpatrick Model’, it remains remarkably unchanged. It is a sign of the precision with which Kirkpatrick defined four levels against which we can evaluate training.

And, if you say ‘what has training evaluation got to do with management?’ – consider this. As a manager, you’ll be constantly training your team members informally And you’ll often be securing them places on external training – or at least signing-off on it. How can you know whether that training is effective? Simple: by evaluating it against Kirkpatrick’s four levels.

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If I were an employer…

… but I’m not: I’m a trainer

imageAs a trainer, a lot of my focus is on giving my participants the best possible learning experience.  I want to give them the best, most relevant, most accurate, most practical information that I can.



My clients are often Learning & Development departments in large organisations, who tell me what training their staff need, and agree with me what I will design and deliver to meet that need.  My public seminars advertise what you will get, and you turn up and get all of it and more.

The Gemba

As a trainer, I rarely get a chance to ‘go to the gemba’ – the place where the work gets done.  And that’s a problem, because, that’s where my training has an effect…

… or doesn’t.  Because, if I am not there, how can I know?  Happily, I am often asked to come in and coach staff directly, but as a trainer, I am really only able to directly influence whether participants like my training, and learn from my training.

These are, respectively, Levels 1 and 2 of Kirkpatrick’s four levels of learning.  The value to the business, however, comes with levels 3 and 4:

  1. Level 1: How do participants react?
  2. Level 2: What do participants learn?
  3. Level 3: How does the training affect workplace behaviour?
  4. Level 4: What results can the organisation measure?

Levels 3 and 4 result from the way that learners, trainers and employers collaborate to transfer participants’ learning back into their workplace.

So, If I were an employer…

If I were an employer, considering any training, or development investment at all, my first purchase would be the new Transfer of Learning Pocketbook.

This is an excellent addition to the Management Pocketbooks collection, by regular authors, Paul Donovan and John Townsend.  It offers you 17 factors that affect transfer of learning and allocates them into five stages.

The Training Process

This creates an exceptionally thorough analysis of how you can boost the value of any training you offer.

How Transfer Friendly is your Organisation?

The book ends with a learning transfer test to help you assess how ‘transfer friendly’ your organisation is.  It has fifty questions that you score on a scale of 0, 1 or 2 depending on whether you:

0 – don’t agree
1 – Partly agree
2 – Fully agree

To give you a flavour, here are five sample questions:

  1. Training professionals regularly participate in business unit/departmental strategic planning meetings
  2. Our course venues provide adequate space for participants to associate and exchange
  3. Our managers communicate clear expectations of forthcoming training to future learners
  4. Wherever possible, learners’ managers send pairs of ‘learning buddies’ to the same course
  5. Our trainers understand and speak the workplace jargon of the trainees

This should give you a transfer-friendliness score out of 10.  For your full evaluation, out of 100, buy the book!

Other Management Pocketbooks by
Paul Donovan and John Townsend

Paul and John have, between them, written a lot of Pocketbooks on the subject of training.

And, finally:

The Great Training Robbery, and

The Red, Green and Blue Trainer’s Pocketfiles of Ready-to-Use Activities

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