Refreshing the Kirkpatrick Four Levels evaluation model - Kirkpatrick Then and Now

#3 in our training evaluation blog post series:

As I’ve written in past evaluation blog posts, more and more organizations are now focusing on how training impacts business results, wanting to know if they are getting the most for their return on training investment. If you follow evaluation blogs and read articles and research on evaluation, you’ll notice that Training and Development professionals are now looking to improve their learning process by “beginning at the end”. They are first defining business outcomes and determining the desired Level 4 results then working down the model rather than starting with traditional level 1 evaluation and working upwards.

Don Kirkpatrick’s concept of the 4 levels of evaluation - Reaction, Learning, Behavior and Results - was first introduced in the 1950’s during and after his Ph.D. dissertation.  But it wasn’t until after numerous articles and speaking engagements at national conferences over the years that his landmark book, Evaluating Training Programs: The Four Levels was published in 1994. It quickly became a cornerstone for T&D professionals providing a logical structure and process for measuring learning. One interesting note I learned:  Don never called his evaluation concept the “Four Levels”.  Someone else did and it caught on!

I recently picked up the Kirkpatrick Then and Now book by Jim Kirkpatrick and Wendy Kayser Kirkpatrick (2009). Taking the original 4 levels concepts developed by Don, Jim (Don’s son) and Wendy (Don’s daughter-in-law) have created an updated and fresh version of Don’s original model.  The book is an Interesting read, covering the “Then” – a description of Don’s 4 levels as well as his first-hand account of how he developed his model, testimonials from his colleagues and a photo gallery. The “Now” part of the book defines the new five Kirkpatrick Foundation Principles and provides practical advice on how to implement the updated Kirkpatrick model successfully starting from the top and working on down.

So grab a copy of the book, have a read and enjoy learning how to turn the Kirkpatrick model on its head!

Be sure to check out our other evaluation blog posts in this series: