Donald Kirkpatrick’s four levels of evaluation are designed as a sequence of ways to evaluate training programs:
Level 1 – Reaction
The participants’ immediate reactions to a course can be measured in this level. This level of evaluation obtains the opinions, feelings, and perspectives of the learner regarding a training program.
Level 2 – Learning
This level tests participants to determine what they have learned. This level of evaluation demonstrates which principles, facts, skills, and attitudes were obtained from training. The test questions must be linked to the training objectives. This approach generally involves a pre-and-post test.
Level 3 – Behavior
Examines behavior changes back on the job as a result of training. This is usually conducted at intervals after training and requires an established data baseline.
Level 4 – Business Results or Impact
Determines the effects of learning on the organization. Over 60% of HRD departments fail to conduct this type of evaluation. However, given the current economic climate, Level 4 evaluation is becoming more and more important as HRD departments are required to demonstrate accountability and how they are adding value to the organization.
As a way of helping determine the feasibility of a result or impact evaluation, program designers would want to answer the following questions:
Do learners value the knowledge, skills, and attitudes being taught? Do they feel confident to use the knowledge and/or skills?
Do managers of learners coach, reinforce, and model the skills being taught? Does the organization reward the use of the knowledge, skills, or attitudes? Do they eliminate task interferences? Is organizational feedback provided?
By Shirley J. Caruso, M.A., Human Resource Development