Evaluating Training Effectiveness

Learning Outcomes

  • Discuss how to evaluate training effectiveness

The most common model for analyzing and evaluating the results of education training and development programs is the Kirkpatrick Model, developed by Donald Kirkpatrick in 1995 for his Ph.D. dissertation.[1] The model consists of four levels, including the following:

  • Level 1: Reaction—Measures how participants react to the training. A common method of determining this is a post-training survey.
  • Level 2: Learning—Assess what the employee learned from the training. Learning can be evaluated by post-tests or demonstration of the knowledge, skill or ability.
  • Level 3: Behavior—Are participants using what they learned? This might be assessed by observation or management evaluations.
  • Level 4: Results—What is the organizational impact? For example, was there an increase in productivity, in project management or management effectiveness?

The way to use this model is not moving from Level 1–Level 4 as it is often taught, but in the reverse order. As LinkedIn Learning Instructor Jeff Toister advises: “Start at level four and identify the results you want to achieve, then work backward to level three to think about what participants need to do on the job to achieve those results, and so on. This will make it easier to connect the training to organizational goals.”[2] Toister’s recommendation is echoed in an image that notes that by moving from Level 1–Level 4, ROI is an afterthought; flipping the sequence puts the emphasis on the business results; that is ROI is designed in at the start.[3]

A diagram shows the four levels of the Kirkpatrick Method. The diagram is a triangle divided into four segments by three horizontal lines. The segments are titled the following from the bottom segment to the top segment; Level 1: Reaction, Level 2: Learning, Level 3: Behavior, Level 4: Results.

In his “The Best Way to Use the Kirkpatrick Model” blog post on the LinkedIn Learning Blog, Paul Petrone notes that there are other models—all with their strengths and weaknesses—but that “it’s not so much what model you choose, but instead how well you execute it.”[4]

Practice Question

  1. Petrone, Paul. "The Best Way to Use the Kirkpatrick Model." LinkedIn: The Learning Blog. May 26, 2017. Accessed July 18, 2019.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Sales Leadership: Change Behaviours, Drive Results. Accessed July 18, 2019.
  4. Petrone, Paul. "The Best Way to Use the Kirkpatrick Model." LinkedIn: The Learning Blog.