Making Sure Your Training is Effective-Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels of Evaluation

Kirkpatrick Training Evaluation Image

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 are 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 Four Levels of Training Evaluation

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 four levels for training evaluation?

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. (Read more about testing after workforce training here).

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. (Read more about measurement of training’s influence on business goals here and even more about level 4 training evaluations here).

Levels of Learning Pyramid

Conclusion: Evaluate Your Training’s Effect with Kirkpatrick’s Model to Assess Effectiveness of Training

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.

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

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Jeffrey Dalto

Jeffrey Dalto

Jeffrey Dalto is an Instructional Designer and the Senior Learning & Development Specialist at Convergence Training. He's worked in training/learning & development for 20 years, in safety and safety training for more than 10, is an OSHA Authorized Outreach Trainer for General Industry OSHA 10 and 30, and is a member of the committee creating the upcoming ANSI Z490.2 national standard on online environmental, health, and safety training.

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