Training assessment: the Kirkpatrick model

Jan 16, 2024

Blog home

It's difficult to talk about training evaluation without talking about the Kirkpatrick model, named after Donald Kirkpatrick, who set out his vision in particular in a 1994 work entitled “Evaluating Training Programs”.

Training assessment

The Kirkpatrick Training Assessment Model

The Kirkpatrick model of training evaluation, which is still a reference today, distinguishes 4 levels of assessment:

  1. Reaction: to what extent participants appreciated the training, found it stimulating, engaging, relevant.

  2. Learning: to what extent participants have acquired the expected knowledge and skills at the end of their training.

  3. Behavior: to what extent participants put into practice, in the exercise of their profession, what they learned during their training.

  4. Results: to what extent has the training had a measurable positive effect on the operation of the organization or company.

Kirkpatrick's Level 1

Level 1, reaction, is traditionally managed by a minimal assessment system, including in paper surveys. This is quite simply a matter of asking the trainee their feelings about different aspects of the training.

Kirkpatrick's Level 2

Level 2, that of learning, is a measure of knowledge before and after training. It is either often forgotten, due to a lack of appropriate tools, or instead of measuring real learning, we simply ask participants if they feel like they have learned what they should have during the training. Feeling is important, but it does not replace effective measurement.

Levels 1 and 2 are typically assessed live, that is to say immediately after training. To truly measure knowledge progression, Level 2 requires before and after measurement. The assessment of knowledge before the training is also an opportunity to validate the prerequisites and therefore the appropriateness of the training.

Kirkpatrick's Level 3

Level 3, behaviors, can only be assessed after some time has passed since the training. This involves measuring how the acquired knowledge could be activated operationally, and to what extent they were professionally useful. This can be estimated by the trainee himself, or by his manager.

Kirkpatrick's Level 4

Level 4, results, concerns the measurement of a real, economically measurable return on investment. The true measurement is generally complex, and requires a real study. In large organizations structured as comparable entities, it is possible to proceed with a form of “A-B Testing”, i.e. to compare the operational indicators of an entity which has implemented a training plan with those of a similar entity that has not deployed it.

In the absence of an overall measure based on an audit, we can imagine evaluating the manager's perception of it.

Manager surveys

As mentioned above, the assessment addressed to the manager of each participant is particularly valuable. He or she is perhaps best placed to assess the extent to which the training has had an impact at the “behavioral” level, that is to say bringing an effective improvement in daily working methods. This is Kirkpatrick level 3.

The difficulty most often encountered is to identify the manager in a more or less systematic way, and to have an email address or a mobile number to send them an inquiry. This need must be taken into account during the registration process, especially since the manager is not always the person who places the training order.

But this is practically the only difficulty: once the registration process includes the entry of the manager's contact details, the entire suite will be automated, requiring no additional effort, and with significant benefit.

If we manage to implement a survey among managers, it will take place some time after the end of the training, around two to three months after the training, and will be extremely concise, with around 3 to 5 questions perhaps. As we have said, the survey will have a collateral benefit, to remind the manager that perhaps other of his colleagues could benefit from this training.

Trainer surveys

Even more than managers, it is important to ask trainers for their opinion. On the one hand their point of view on the course of the training is essential, on the other hand since they are most often professionals, they have a very relevant perspective and can naturally compare the course of a session with that to which they are accustomed to. They can assess whether the level of the trainees was appropriate and they can indicate whether they have identified additional training needs among some of the trainees.

Even if we judge the trainer's satisfaction to be less critical than that of his trainee clients, all training organizations are keen to cultivate a pool of training providers on whom they can rely, and for this it is important that the trainer also be satisfied with each session.

Furthermore, if there has been a clash with one of the trainees, and it is the latter mentioned in a feedback, it is quite legitimate to also have the trainer's vision of this incident.

In short, the survey of trainers is of the first importance. Unlike managers, trainers will always be clearly identified, and it is not difficult to have a 100% return rate requirement for them.

Surveys and knowledge assessment

It is important to clearly distinguish two very different mechanisms, which can be involved in training evaluation:

  • Surveys, which we will sometimes call satisfaction surveys, even if their scope can go well beyond satisfaction alone. They proceed from a logic of collecting information, and they will integrate questions that do not have correct or incorrect answers.

  • Assessment of prior learning, which aims to obtain a quantitative measure of the benefits of training in terms of knowledge and skills acquired. Here, each question asked is a small exercise and each question can contribute to building an overall score, which will be a measure of knowledge.

In both cases we call it “assessment”, and we sometimes talk about “questions” and even “questionnaires”. But using the same words causes confusion. This is why we prefer:

  • Use only the term surveys for the collection of information, possibly “survey form” to refer to all the input fields submitted to the trainee.

  • Use the terms “questions”, “questionnaires” and “assessments” only in the context of measuring learning.

The tools and solutions implemented are of a very different nature. It still happens that an evaluation system is deployed using only surveys, without adding a real measurement of acquired knowledge. Our point of view is that, once we have a solution allowing us to combine surveys and assessments, we will have much more complete, more precise and more objective feedback when processing the knowledge assessment.

And it is also the only way to truly cover level 2 of the Kirkpatrick model.

You need to now more about training assessment ? Download our free whitepaper here !

Best practices for creating questionnaires
Discover all our best practices for creating a questionnaire that is both effective and relevant to address your assessment challenges.
Why choose a LAS for your digital learning programs?
Like the LMS, a LAS is a SaaS, digital learning solution that allows companies, training centers and educational institutions to provide complete training courses including training assessment.
Assessment and learning
Many studies have analyzed successful pedagogical models. Their knowledge and the analysis of their lessons make it possible to enrich learning, in particular by addressing the problem of objective assessment in business.
What is e-learning ?
The term e-learning (for electronic learning) refers to online learning or online training. For several years now, the term "e-learning" has become common, thanks to the arrival and democratization of digital learning technologies.
What is blended learning?
Blended learning (hybrid training or mixed training) is a type of training that combines face-to-face and digital tools (like those of e-learning).
Soft skills assessment with ExperQuiz
Unlike hard skills, which are a person's technical skills and often called “know-how”, soft skills are more difficult to define. However, they can be considered as a person's “interpersonal skills ”.
Training assessment white paper
Get the best practices of training assessment in our free white paper and create great surveys following your trainings!
ExperQuiz and training assessment
ExperQuiz is a complete Learning and Assessment Solution. Meaning it is a full featured LMS platform, which is characterized by particularly rich and advanced functionalities in terms of assessment.
Adaptive learning: a powerful tool for training
The growing importance of adaptive learning in the world of training and education is undeniable. This approach, which is based on learner data, makes it possible to personalize learning to the needs of each individual.
The online attendance register by ExperQuiz
The attendance sheet makes it possible to meet legal obligations and digitalization offers an enriched and fluid experience to learners, trainees and trainers.
What is m-learning in the world of digital learning?
One of these new methods is m-learning, or mobile learning, which has transformed access to training. But what exactly is m-learning?
The authoring tool: definition
Different tools are used to completely digitize a training process: from the administrative part, to the distribution of training, through the design of e-learning modules. It is in this last phase that the authoring tool plays its role.
What is upskilling reskilling and cross-skilling?
3 terms regularly emerge in the world of professional training: upskilling, reskilling and cross-skilling. These different notions make it possible to better define the objectives of a training course and can therefore help a company to adapt to change, to deepen its knowledge and to improve the flexibility of its personnel.
What is an LXP platform?
Learning Experience Platforms (LXP) are increasingly popular in the universe of training professionals. They offer a learner-centric approach with innovative features that dramatically improve the learning experience for employees and organizations.
Will AI replace trainers?
With the arrival of OpenAI innovation, ChatGPT, artificial intelligence is at the forefront and we now know that all sectors will be impacted fairly quickly. The world of training is obviously not spared.
Synchronous & asynchronous learning : differences & advantages
We regularly hear about synchronous and asynchronous learning. These two notions refer to two teaching methods : both have advantages and these 2 approaches can be combined depending on the educational objectives.
Best practices for designing an effective elearning module
E-learning modules are a great way to deliver training on almost any topic at scale. But what are the best practices for designing and deploying effective elearning modules?
LMS: Understanding the Learning Management System for online training
Discover all the features offered by an LMS platform: content management, pedagogy, assessments and more!
The challenges of training assessment
Evaluating a training means determining its value, but what defines the value of a training? It seems to us that the clearest definition would be: to what extent did the training achieve the stated objectives? Which, of course, presupposes having defined them in a precise and systematic manner.
How to increase assessment acceptance in companies
Assessment is simply quantifying something and giving it a value. The action of measuring is normally and generally something objective and precise. However, assessment is something less cartesian, often influenced by subjectivity.
What is a flipped classroom?
The flipped classroom is a pedagogical approach that is developing more and more thanks to digital technology and which makes it possible to focus learning on the student.
Adaptive Learning In Practice
Adaptive learning is a powerful tool to enhance both teaching and learning, but depends on strong digital learning solutions.
What is nudge?
The English term “Nudge” means to give a little push or a little boost to someone. That is to say, a subtle indication that we give to someone to encourage them to do or not to do something.
Using Assessment To Drive Effective Skills Management
A Learning Assessment Solution enables you to benefit from strong and reliable assessments to enrich and drive skills management in any type of organization.
Using Assessment To Improve Training And Learning
Training assessment is key and essential for training organizations and for companies. It is an opportunity to improve and increase the quality and the effectiveness of the training they provide.
Digital learning : democratization or dehumanization ?
Digital training do not replace human interactions but offer the opportunity to create personalized training experiences with more precise support.
Adaptive learning: a powerful tool for training
The growing importance of adaptive learning in the world of training and education is undeniable. This approach, which is based on learner data, makes it possible to personalize learning to the needs of each individual.