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Four Levels for Evaluating Training

Posted by Marsha Weisleder on 1/26/15 3:00 AM
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Photo by: Gerd Altmann via Pixabay

Ode to Donald Kirkpatrick – Father of the Four Levels of Evaluation

I was very sad when I heard, quite some time ago, of the passing of Donald Kirkpatrick, the creator and founder of the four levels of evaluation. Even though I never met him, I feel connected to him in some way. You see, I have been teaching his principles for over 14 years now. Let me rephrase that, not just teaching, but rather inspiring and motivating others with his vision. I am so passionate about his evaluation model and the impact it has made on the world of training.


Let’s also keep in mind that Dr. Kirkpatrick formulated this model over 50 years ago, and we’re still using it today. Talk about a legacy that will be passed on to every training professional for generations to come! So, what are the four levels? We discuss them in many Langevin workshops, but in the greatest detail in our three-day Evaluation of Training workshop.


Level 1 is the Reaction Level. This level measures how learners reacted to the program. What did they think of the course? Did the training meet the objectives and learner expectations? This level includes questions regarding the delivery, materials, facility, and usefulness of the content. It’s usually measured by a survey at the end of class.


Level 2 is the Learning Level. This level measures whether learners acquired new knowledge and skill during the session. It is measured using tests, assessments, and exercises.


Level 3 is the Performance Level. This level measures whether learners are using the skills back on the job. This can be measured by observation, interviews, surveys, post-course tests, and focus groups. 


Level 4 is the Results Level. This level measures the outcome achieved as a result of the training. How did the organization benefit? Has the improved job performance impacted the organization? This is typically measured with records or data.


Most organizations do a great job measuring levels 1 and 2, but fall short for levels 3 and 4. Luckily, in our Evaluation of Training workshop, we break it down and make it simple and easy to implement. We cover how to plan the evaluation, design the instruments, implement the instruments, analyze the information, and communicate the results to senior management.


I’ve always been excited to teach this course because evaluating training’s effectiveness is how we prove our value. I’m even more passionate these days, and thankfully, no longer sad. I’m actually feeling quite lucky and fortunate. I can continue to share Dr. Kirkpatrick’s model and influence others with his vision. Donald Kirkpatrick, you were a legend in the training field and will be greatly missed. Thanks for all you have done.


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Marsha has been a course leader with Langevin since 2000. She graduated from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience. She went on to attend Osgoode Hall Law School and practiced civil litigation for a few years. While working for a company as their in-house legal counsel, Marsha fell into a training position and never looked back! Each day, Marsha brings passion and excitement to her workshops, always encouraging her participants to find their own passion as well. Outside of the classroom, Marsha loves to spend time with her family, travel, and stay active. Of course her main obsession is Elvis! Some people might think she’s a little over-the-top about him, but doesn’t everyone have an Elvis shrine in their home? Maybe not…

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