If you've ever designed or led training, you know it takes a lot of time and resources.
But how do you know if it's working?
The Kirkpatrick Model of Evaluation is a great way to assess if your training is doing its job.
The model is split into 4 levels, each measuring wider and more long-term effects than the last:
The Kirkpatrick Model
Level 1: Reaction
How Learners Feel about Training
An employee, Nia, goes to a training session. At the end of the training, Nia is given a survey to rate how much she liked the training. She rates the content and the trainer high, but thought the training went on a bit too long.
Level 1 focuses on how participants felt about the training itself. Did they find it enjoyable, engaging, and relevant to their jobs?
This is important because learners who have good experiences better remember information better.
Many people use “Smile sheets” where participants rate aspects of the training (such as what Nia recieves in the scenario above). You can also use white boards or forums to collect more detailed feedback.
Level 2: Learning
What Learners Take Away From Training
During the training, Nia is put into a group with other participants. They work together and give a presentation at the end. The trainer gives them a score based on how well they mastered the material, and reports those scores to Nia's director.
At Level 2, you test how much participants have learned. Did the training teach what it was supposed to? Many trainings focus heavily on this level of assessment because it is relatively easy and inexpensive.
Common methods include:
Pre- and post-tests
Knowledge checks throughout the training
What can Level 2 tell you about training?
Level 3: Behavior
How Learners Apply Training on the Job
After the training, Nia goes back to her regular work. Her supervisor asks her to share her new knowledge with the team, and occasionally checks in to help her use what she learned. After a few weeks, Nia notices that she is working much more efficiently.
Level 3 measures how well the training “sticks” when employees are back on the job.
Decide what behavior you want to see from team members. After training, observe for that behavior.
You will need to make sure managers can observe and reinforce the behavior, and that teams are supportive of changes. Otherwise, employees could lose everything they learned.
Common methods include:
Recognition or rewards
Feedback from managers, customers, or peers
Which of these can stop employees from changing behavior?
Level 4: Results
How the Organization Benefits
By the end of the quarter, Nia’s supervisor reports that the whole team has increased productivity by 20%. The organization decides to use the training in other teams to increase their productivity.
At Level 4, you can measure the long-term impact of the training and determine if it was worth the investment.
Training should help achieve the goals of the organization. When designing training, target a specific high-level outcome. What do you want to improve in the organization?
Reduce cost or waste?
Then, for whatever outcome you choose, have a way of measuring it.
Decrease in complaints
Increase in production
Reduction of waste
How could you measure employee satisfaction?
Now that you understand the different levels of the Kirkpatrick model, you can use them to evaluate your training.
The types of issue your training has can help determine what level you should focus on.
Watch the video to the right and then brainstorm some ways you could improve your trainings based on what issues you're having.