Using the Kirkpatrick Model to Evaluate Training

Lauren Hays

Lauren Hays

December 01, 2020

All training, whether in-person or online, needs to be evaluated. Evaluation helps you know if your training was effective, and if so, how people are using the knowledge they learned. 

Donald Kirkpatrick, former Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin, developed a four level evaluation framework that is widely used in corporate training. 

The four levels are Reaction, Learning, Behavior, and Results. 

Level 1: Reaction

At this level, you want to get the audience’s reaction to the training. Getting their initial reaction will help you know how well the training was received. According to Kirkpatrick Partners, at this level you specifically want to know “the degree to which participants find the training favorable, engaging and relevant to their jobs”.

Questions to ask of trainees include:

  • Did you find the session engaging?
  • How satisfied are you with the training? (1-10 scale)
  • Did you find your level of participation in the training sufficient?
  • How relevant did you find the information shared during the training? (1-10 scale)

Level 2: Learning

At this level, you want to understand if the audience learned the information you presented in your training. According to Kirkpatrick Partners, at this level you specifically want to know “the degree to which participants acquire the intended knowledge, skills, attitude, confidence and commitment based on their participation in the training”.

Questions to ask of trainees include:

  • I now am able to do X (a skill you trained on). 
  • How comfortable are you doing X (a skill you trained on)? (1-10 scale)
  • I am committed to trying X (a skill you trained on). 

Level 3: Behavior

At this level, you want to determine if the audience applies the knowledge they learned. According to Kirkpatrick Partners, at this level you specifically want to know “the degree to which participants apply what they learned during training when they are back on the job.”

These questions may need to be evaluated a week or two after the training session. Questions to ask of trainees include:

  • Did you put X (a skill you trained on) to use?
  • Have you taught X (a skill you trained on) to any of your colleagues?

Level 4: Results

At this level, you want to determine if the learning objectives for your training were met. According to Kirkpatrick Partners, at this level you specifically want to know “the degree to which targeted outcomes occur as a result of the training and the support and accountability package”.

A question to ask of trainees include:

  • I am able to [the objective you identified before the training].

For example,

  • I am able to use interlibrary loan.
  • I am able to request a resource from the library. 
  • I am able to locate information I need for my job.

*For tips on writing learning objectives please see my post from earlier this year titled Setting Learning Goals in Special Libraries.

While evaluation is important for all training, I particularly encourage you to incorporate an evaluation plan if you have recently switched to online training sessions. Evaluation will help you refine your online training so it is always relevant and applicable to your organization. 

Lauren Hays

Lauren Hays

Lauren Hays, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Instructional Technology at the University of Central Missouri. Please read her other posts about skills for special librarians. And take a look at Lucidea’s powerful integrated library systems, SydneyEnterpriseand GeniePlus, used daily by innovative special librarians in libraries of all sizes and budgets.

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