There are many variations on the 4-level model of how to evaluate organizational training, but Don Kirkpatrick’s “4 Levels of Evaluation,” developed in 1959, is still the blue-ribbon standard today.
Level 1 - Reaction: How did learners like the course?
Level 2 - Learning: Did learners acquire new knowledge and skills?
Level 3 - Behavior: Did learners apply new knowledge and skills on the job?
Level 4 - Results - Did learners’ performance impact the organization?
According to some industry surveys, approximately 37% of respondents did Level 2 evaluations on some of their courses. These are just a few of the benefits of conducting Level 2 evaluations:
- Determine the impact training had on the employees’ knowledge and skills.
- Identify strengths and weaknesses in training.
- Secure more support from managers/supervisors and upper management for future training programs.
In addition, as trainers, we often deliver courses that are compliance-oriented, such as health and safety or hazardous material handling, etc., and we show that our learners “got it” by conducting Level 2 evaluations.
We can verify the “transfer of training” by performing testing during the training. Testing can take many forms. If practice and application during the training have been documented, testing can demonstrate the skills and knowledge have been acquired by the learners.
A quiz can also be used to verify that a required level of knowledge has been achieved. Depending on how it is structured, a practice exercise may show that a learner can perform an objective to the required standard.
From the learner’s perspective, a Level 2 evaluation should provide clear feedback on their performance in the training.
Level 2 evaluations are also a yardstick of performance for the instructional designer and/or the instructor who delivers the training.
From an instructional design standpoint, you may want to answer these questions as part of Level 2 evaluation:
1. Has adequate preparation been provided to allow the participants to meet the standard?
2. Are all questions on a non-performance test based on the presented material?
3. Are questions well written?
4. Is there one question missed more frequently than others?
5. Is there adequate practice to ensure a high success rate on the performance tests?
6. Does the course need updating or modification?
From the instructor’s viewpoint, Level 2 evaluations can help determine whether the participants have been coached and developed to the point where they can meet the course objectives. These evaluation forms can also help an instructor identify learners that have successfully gained the desired skills and learners who may need additional support. It also shows the instructor where she/he needs to clarify or modify their delivery so the learners can be more successful.
At the departmental level, Level 2 evaluations show the learners have met the objectives the organization has identified for them—they “can do” the required skill or knowledge. A well-designed test is the best predictor of the learners’ ability to perform back on the job. In short, it shows the training department has accomplished its slice of the job performance pie.
When viewed from these various standpoints, it’s clear that Level 2 evaluations provide important data on the effectiveness of the training.
If you want to learn the essential skills you need to effectively evaluate your training, check out Langevin’s Evaluation of Training workshop!
If YOU have any success (or failure!) stories about your experiences with Level 2 evaluations, I'd love to read about them in the commments below!