We teamed up with Limestone Learning to deliver a webinar on Measuring the Value of Training, and Turning Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels of Evaluation Upside Down. Measuring the value of training is a very complex process, but it is an essential component to any learning program. Let’s start with the obvious question - what defines good training? Good training should always have a purpose. It should inform, teach, improve, and ultimately, it should change. Introducing methods for evaluation, and actually tying them to performance will help identify if learning has occurred during and after training, and it will help determine whether job performance improvements have been realized. Additionally, having the ability to measure improvements in job performance will provide valuable data for measuring cost-benefits to the organization.
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Don Kirkpatrick was a professor at the University of Wisconsin, who developed a model for evaluating course training. Kirkpatrick’s model has become highly influential in the field of learning and development, because it provides a logical structure and process for measuring learning. The model is based on 4 levels of evaluation. Let’s go through them one by one.
If you have ever had to fill out a course evaluation at the end of a program, then you are familiar with the reaction level. This measures the degree to which learners reacted positively to the learning content - whether they found the content valuable, enjoyable, and interesting.
This is the evaluation given before, during, and after learning. The purpose of this is to measure the degree to which learners have obtained knowledge based on their participation in the learning event. The evaluation conducted before learning determines the learners starting point. Each learner will have a different level of background knowledge prior to learning course material, so understanding where everyone stands to begin with allows for a more accurate measure. Evaluation during the learning event allows learners to self-evaluate, and measure their own progress. It also gives facilitators a sense of how well learners are doing in relation to the learning objectives. The evaluation at the end of the learning event is also referred to as a summative evaluation, and it is done individually.
This level of evaluation is conducted once the course is over, once learners are back on the job. This measures the level of which learners actually apply what they learned in training to their job.
The last level measures to what degree targeted business outcomes occurred as a result of the learning event.
5. ROI (Return on Investment)
While Kirpatrick's Model was originally four levels, there is a fifth level that has become an accepted addition to training evaluation in more recent years. The fifth level measures to what degree the monetary value of the results exceed the cost of the training course or program. In other words, are you getting back more than you are putting in?
So what does it mean to turn this model upside down? Learning and development professionals are now looking to improve their learning process by beginning with the end in mind - an emerging essential step is turning the model on its head. Now you probably have a few questions - How exactly do you go about turning the model upside down? How do you align learning to organizational goals, and what steps can be taken to ensure this alignment? For answers to these questions, as well as strategies for aligning learning, and effectively implementing evaluation, watch the full webinar by clicking the button below.