Sunday, November 15, 2009

Kirkpatrick Levels of Evaluation

I'm back in class this month taking "Evaluating Training Interventions" facilitated by Don Jackson. Don asked us post our comments to the classroom discussion board (assignment 1.3) relating our experience with evaluation instruments to which I wrote:

I am framing my response to this question from the viewpoint of the levels of evaluation (Kirkpatrick’s levels 1 – 4). Early in my career I placed way too much emphasis on the level 1 evaluation. I allowed the negative comment of one or two students to override the 12 – 14 positive comments from the rest of the students. Another funny thing about level 1 evaluations, we would ask about the comfort level in the room including chairs, tables, temperature and other silly items but never corrected any complaints that had about the environmental conditions. So why ask questions you don’t intend to use to correct a situation that needs correction? I was told because it’s always been done that way.

We rarely did a pre-test evaluation and when we did, even if the student flunked the pre-test they were still allowed in the class. Again, why conduct the test if you aren’t going to enforce it? There never was a post-test for any of the classes I taught so I created my own. I considered it a level 2 evaluation since I taught computer hardware, firmware, and software topics and would ask the student to demonstrate their new-found skills by troubleshooting the systems I bugged.

The real evaluation takes place at level 3 where you check back with the student a few months later to see if they are using the skills attained from the classroom and building upon those skills in the work environment. Sadly, few companies ever reach level 3 or level 4 evaluations. Statistically speaking (this comes from a previous post I wrote):

Level 1 - between 72 to 89 percent of organizations use Level 1 (reaction)
Level 2 - between 29 to 32 percent of organizations use Level 2 (learning)
Level 3 - between 11 to 12 percent of organizations use Level 3 (behavior)
Level 4 - between 0 to 3 percent of organizations use Level 4 (results)

Use the NIOSH Training Evaluation Tips for further explanation of this assignment:

By the way, Kirkpatrick has revised the four levels and now has an updated white paper, April 2009, available for download from the internet. If you are unable to find it, let me know and I can make a copy available to you.

Thanks for reading,

Kevin Love, MBA (e-Business)
Training and Development Specialist
Dallas / Fort Worth Area
Google Voice: 817-778-8540
Personal Email:

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