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The Kirkpatrick Method

Donald Kirkpatrick first introduced the Kirkpatrick method in 1959. In 2016, his son James D. and daughter in law Wendy Kaiser Kirkpatrick, updated his ideas in their book, “Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels of Training Evaluation”.  

You can use the Kilpatrick Method to evaluate your training project. The key to success is to start using this tool at the beginning of your project.

The 4 Steps of the Kirkpatrick Method

The 4 steps of the Kirkpatrick Method are, Reaction, Learning, Behavior and Results. According to “Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels of Training Evaluation”. These steps can be looked at as follows:

Reaction – How favorable, engaging and relevant to their jobs did the learners find the training?

Learning – Did the learners get the intended knowledge, skills, confidence and commitment?  You can measure this by observing their participation.

Behavior – Can the learners apply what they learned in the training on the job?

Results – Is the organization receiving the results they want from the training?

Determining Learner Reaction

To determine the learner’s Reaction to the training, you’ll ask questions like:

How engaged were the learners?

Did they contribute to the discussions?

You’ll also need to gather feedback from your learners by asking questions like…

How valuable was the training for you?

Did you think it was a good use of your time?

What were the biggest strengths and weaknesses of the training?

Were the training activities engaging?

Did you like the venue and presentation style?

How do you plan to use what you learned on the job?

Determining Learner Learning

The Learning Step measures how well the training worked or did not work. You base this on the criteria you set up in the ADDIE model’s Analyze phase.

You measure how well the training developed learner’s knowledge and skills, attitudes. You’ll also measure their confidence and commitment in regards to the training.

While you could test the learners before the training and then after its completed, this may be cost or time prohibitive. A better way might be reviewing and discussing key concepts to check for knowledge.

Skills evaluation is a little more straight forward. Here the learner performs the skill in as real environment as possible. For example, a supervisor can  watch a machine operator operate a machine. Another example would be listening to a service rep can take calls.

An attitude is change is when learners understand and shift their perspective toward the trained behavior and then use it. For example, hospital employees washing their hands as they go from room to room in a hospital.

Determining Learner Behavior

The Behavior step is about understanding how well people can apply their training. In other words, can they perform the behavioral skill that was trained?

Measuring this lets you know where learners might need help. A simple way to measure behavioral changes is by conducting observations and interviews.

Something to keep in mind is that behavioral change can only happen if the company culture values and nourishes it. For this to happen, learners need to be encouraged to use their new behaviors. You can do this using praise and reinforcement.

You can also assign a task to your team that involves the new behaviors and let the learners show what they have learned together.

Determining Learner Results

Finally, and most importantly, you need to examine Results. Is the organization receiving the value or outcome designed into the training?

You do this by following Steven Covey’s advice, beginning with the end in mind. When you determine your desired training accomplishment in advance, the value it adds to your organization, you can to develop courses that give you much more than tactical success. You gain organizational success.

While there are many ways to measure this value, the measure needs to line up with overall company strategy. You do this by using leading indicators.

For example, if you are measuring employee satisfaction, examine improved employee retention rate. If you are measuring sales, look at month over month sales volume. Of course, the list is endless.

You cannot measure leading indicators in a vacuum. For example, improved employee retention rate must be accompanied by overall organizational profitability. This is because without profitability the company will ultimately fail.

The key point to remember is that by beginning with the end in mind, your training is much more likely to create the needed impact.

Determining your Results will take a great deal of time and resources. Because of this, you need to identify the benefits, the outcomes, or the results most closely linked to the training. You also need to identify how to measure them.

Utilizing the Kirkpatrick Method

The Kirkpatrick Method is an excellent tool for setting up and measuring your learning activities. Like all tools, it is only effective when put to use.

The best way to begin to use it is to pick up a copy of The Four Levels of Training Evaluations. It’s a small investment for an outstanding result.

Learn More :

The ADDIE Model