The Kirkpatrick Model of Learning Evaluation: A Comprehensive Framework for Assessing Training Effectiveness

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The Kirkpatrick Model of Learning Evaluation is a framework that emphasizes the significance of learning and development in today’s world. Merely providing training content to learners is insufficient. It is crucial to demonstrate that the training program is making a tangible impact on the business. This is where the Kirkpatrick Model is useful.

Dr. Donald Kirkpatrick created a framework that offers a comprehensive structure for assessing the effectiveness of training programs. This framework consists of four levels, each providing valuable insights into the impact of your training initiatives. It allows you to determine whether your training is achieving the desired results.

In this article, we will delve into the details of the model and explore how to practically assess each level. However, let’s begin by getting acquainted with the creator of the framework.

Who is Dr. Donald Kirkpatrick? Dr. Donald L. Kirkpatrick is the individual responsible for developing the Kirkpatrick Model. He formulated the four levels of training evaluation in the 1950s, utilizing them as the basis for his PhD dissertation. Following his completion of a BA, MA, and PhD from the University of Wisconsin, Kirkpatrick enjoyed a lengthy career as a Professor Emeritus at the Management Institute of the same university. He taught a variety of subjects, including coaching, communication, time management, change management, team building, and leadership. Dr. Kirkpatrick was highly esteemed in the field of training and development, and his Kirkpatrick Model remains widely recognized and utilized as a standard tool for assessing the effectiveness of training programs.

The Kirkpatrick Model is a tool that can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of training programs, whether they are conducted in person or online. This model provides a structured way to assess the impact and value of these programs, with four levels that build upon each other. By using this model, you can gain a comprehensive understanding of how effective your training programs are, allowing you to identify their strengths, weaknesses, and impact. This information can then be used to make data-driven decisions and improve your courses.

Level 1 of the Kirkpatrick Model is all about getting feedback from learners. The main objective is to evaluate how the audience responds to your training program. During this stage, it is important to measure learner satisfaction, engagement, and how they perceive the overall training initiatives. To gather this information, you can use different methods such as surveys, interviews, focus groups, or even observation.

By analyzing the feedback provided by learners, you will be able to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your training program from their point of view. This will allow you to make necessary adjustments and improvements to enhance the training experience.

When using an online learning platform, such as a learning management system (LMS) or learning app, there are various tools available to help you gather information and assess how learners are responding. These tools include surveys that can be used to collect feedback on factors such as overall satisfaction, content relevance, ease of use, and the overall learning experience. Feedback from participants is commonly used by L&D teams as an evaluation metric because it is easy to collect and analyze. In addition, good learning platforms allow you to monitor learner behavior within the online learning environment, such as tracking log-ins, content completion rates, content ratings, social learning engagement, and learner progress. These metrics can give you an understanding of how engaged learners are with the platform. Furthermore, these tools usually come with a reporting feature that presents the data in a visually understandable way. Once you have collected the data, it is important to analyze it to identify any patterns, suggestions, or areas for improvement. By addressing and incorporating learner feedback, you can enhance the effectiveness of your training program and increase learner engagement. While this step provides valuable information, it is not enough to accurately evaluate the effectiveness of the training. Therefore, once the reaction phase is completed, it is time to move on to the next level.

Level 2 of the Kirkpatrick Model evaluates the extent to which learners have gained or improved their knowledge and skills through a training program. Dr. Kirkpatrick identifies five levels of competence to provide more precise assessment. At this level, the focus should be on evaluating the outcomes of learning to determine the effectiveness of instructional design strategies. This evaluation should involve assessing knowledge acquisition, measuring skill development, and evaluating retention. Methods such as in-unit quizzes, pre and post-assessments, simulations, and performance-based tests can be used for this purpose. By understanding learners’ performance at this level, informed decisions can be made to enhance objectives and address any skill gaps that may exist.

When hosting a training programme online, there are various assessment tools available to measure the knowledge and skills gained by learners. Pre and post-assessments, such as quizzes, tests, or assignments, can be utilized to determine the amount of knowledge acquired. Additionally, digital learning platforms can be used to assess skills development through interactive simulations or scenarios. Lastly, evaluating learners’ retention and comprehension can be done by assigning tasks or projects that require them to demonstrate their abilities, such as presentations, reports, reflective essays, or group projects.

Level 3: Behavior

The third level, behavior, assesses how well learners can apply their newly acquired knowledge and skills in practical real-life situations. This level is crucial as the main objective of any training program is to bring about changes in behavior. By evaluating behavior change, you can determine if your training program successfully enables learners to utilize their new skills in real-world scenarios. This evaluation helps identify any gaps between learning and practical implementation, allowing you to refine instructional strategies, provide targeted support, and reinforce desired behaviors. Focusing on behavior change ensures that your training program has a measurable impact on learners’ performance and productivity. To ensure learners understand what is expected of them, it is important to establish an effective feedback loop. By providing constructive feedback on their performance, learners can adjust their behavior accordingly. Therefore, it is essential to include feedback along with quiz questions or assessments and offer additional resources or mentoring in areas where learners may be struggling.

When evaluating any changes in behavior, it is important to first define and understand the desired behavior. These behaviors should align with the overall training objectives and the mission and values of the organization. Once the learners have completed their training, the focus should shift towards assessing behavior change. This can be done through various tools such as surveys, interviews, observations, and performance assessments in real work settings.

One way to evaluate behavior change is by observing the learners in their work environment before and after training. This allows for an assessment of how well they apply their learning, solve problems, and adhere to the desired behaviors. Surveys, interviews, and performance assessments can also be used to assess the practical application of new skills and knowledge. For example, scenario-based quiz questions can provide insight into how learners would act in realistic situations.

Behavior change can also be demonstrated through improved performance, such as increased customer satisfaction, improved sales results, or reduced time for completing tasks. It is also important to gather feedback from the learners’ managers, supervisors, and colleagues, as they have firsthand experience of observing the learners in action and their approaches to work.

Level 4 of the Kirkpatrick Model focuses on assessing the results of your training program in terms of its impact on the organization. It is important to measure the tangible results and benefits that the training has generated. According to the LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report, 63% of L&D professionals recognize the importance of learning and development in business growth. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the overall impact and value of your training, as it is a recognized tool for business success. By aligning your training program with organizational goals and outcomes, you can determine the return on investment (ROI) and demonstrate the value of training to your leadership team. This will also help secure support for future L&D projects and identify areas for improvement.

According to research conducted by CIPD, 70% of L&D practitioners evaluate the effectiveness of their training initiatives to some extent. However, only 12% assess the broader impact on their organization or society as a whole. To begin evaluating the impact, it is important to identify relevant metrics that align with the organization’s overall goals. These metrics could include improved performance, cost-effectiveness, or customer satisfaction levels.

Once the metrics are identified, data should be collected and analyzed to compare the results before and after implementing the training initiative. This level of evaluation requires more detailed data collection compared to previous levels. Sufficient time should be allocated to the results stage.

To analyze improvements in performance, the focus should be on organizational outcomes that have been agreed upon. Examples of these outcomes could be increased sales, improved quality metrics, or reduced error rates.

It is also important to assess cost-related results. This can be done by evaluating the return on investment (ROI) or cost savings achieved through improved efficiency or reduced training costs.

Customer satisfaction metrics should also be considered, such as customer feedback, ratings, or Net Promoter Score (NPS). These metrics help determine whether the training has had an impact on customer service or product quality.

The Kirkpatrick Model is widely recognized and used worldwide as an evaluation model due to its numerous advantages.

1. Offers a Thorough Assessment

The Kirkpatrick Model offers a complete structure for evaluating training programs. With its four levels – Reaction, Learning, Behaviour, and Results – it ensures that all important factors are considered when assessing the success of training initiatives. By evaluating each level’s effectiveness, you can go beyond just measuring engagement with the platform. Merely tracking learners’ completion of courses or log-ins to an online platform would overlook more significant outcomes, such as changes in behavior and the impact on the business.

2. Emphasizes the Importance of Achieving Results

This framework highlights the significance of L&D teams evaluating the final outcomes and effects of their training programs. It emphasizes that this is the only way to assess whether the training is actually leading to overall enhancements in performance.

3. Connects Training with Organizational Goals

Effective training programs are designed to align with the overall objectives of your organization. This is crucial in order to bring about meaningful behavioral changes that have a positive impact on your organization. Similarly, the Kirkpatrick Model allows you to assess different levels of training effectiveness, helping you identify and address specific areas where performance can be improved. By doing so, you are able to contribute to the achievement of your strategic goals.

4. Identifies Advantages and Disadvantages

Through the individual evaluation of each level, you have the opportunity to recognize both the advantages and disadvantages of your training program at an early stage. This enables you to pinpoint areas that need improvement, fine-tune your content and delivery strategies, and ultimately enhance the overall effectiveness of your training.

5. Assists in Decision-Making

The Kirkpatrick Model encourages decision-making based on evidence. By offering a systematic method for collecting data and evaluating the effectiveness of your training, it empowers you to make informed decisions regarding resource allocation and training strategies. Ultimately, this enables you to optimize the return on your investment in training.

The Kirkpatrick Model allows for continuous improvement by providing a framework for analyzing and giving feedback. This model helps collect data that can be used to make ongoing improvements to training programs. By gathering feedback and evaluating the effectiveness of each level, adjustments can be made over time to enhance the overall quality and impact of the training.

7. Involves Key Participants

By utilizing the Kirkpatrick Model, you gather valuable information throughout the evaluation process. This data can be shared with your stakeholders. The standardized framework assists in effectively communicating the significance and effectiveness of your training. As a result, you can gain support and involvement from influential individuals within your organization.


Despite receiving some criticism and undergoing modifications, the Kirkpatrick model remains an invaluable tool for L&D professionals in the present day. Merely monitoring the completion of learners’ content is insufficient. Instead, implementing comprehensive evaluation strategies enables professionals to refine their learning programs and contribute to the success and expansion of their organizations.

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