Companies pour a lot of money into training. And of course, they hope that money is well spent. That would mean that the training “worked”: employees learned things, they changed their behaviors at work, and those changed behaviors ultimately contributed to a business goal, like increased workplace safety, higher production efficiency, increased sales revenue, lower total costs, or similar goals.
But exactly how do you know if your training was effective?
To figure this out, Donald Kirkpatrick came up with something now called Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels of Training Evaluation. There may be other methods to do this, but Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels are a widely used classic. They became very popular after he published his book Evaluating Training Programs in 1994.
Kirkpatrick’s model evaluates the effectiveness of the training at four different levels. All four levels of evaluation have their place and their significance, and each builds on the other. So, let’s take a look at these levels, shall we?
Reaction: did the learners like the learning process?
Learning: did the learners learn the knowledge, skills, or attitudes (KSAs) that the training was intended to convey?
Behavior: did the learners transfer the newly learned KSAs to on-the-job performance?
Results: what was the tangible result of the training in terms of meeting a business goal?
So how do you measure each of these?
Level 1-Reaction: Surveys handed out to the learners, online evaluations, etc. (Read more about level 1 reactions here.)
Level 2-Learning: Role-playing scenarios during training, focus groups, case studies, tests, etc.
Level 3-Behavior: Observation of on-the-job behaviors and other evaluation metrics.
Level 4-Results: Direct measurement of business goal–cost, revenue, production, etc.
So there you have it, a nice, easy, four-level method for evaluating the effectiveness of your training materials. Training is valuable, helpful, and necessary, and we’re a big proponent of it, but you definitely want to make sure it’s helping and this is one good way to do that. Stayed tuned for a future post where we tie Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels of Training Evaluation into a discussion of safety training (including leading and lagging indicators of safety).
Since this method was originally developed, a revised “new” Kirkpatrick Evaluation Model has been created. Click that link to get it from the horse’s mouth; we’ll add this to the list of things to write about in the future.
A final note: for a LOT more information related to this topic, check out Don Clark’s always informative Big Dog/Little Dog blog.
Don’t forget to download the free guide below.
Manufacturing Training from Scratch: A Guide
Create a more effective manufacturing training program by following these best practices with our free step-by-step guide.