What Is The Kirkpatrick Model? (And How To Use It)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 17 August 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Organisations often conduct training programmes to ensure that their employees have the required skills and knowledge to do their jobs. It is important to determine whether these training programmes are effective to ensure that an organisation can justify its investments in them. If you are a trainer and want to find out if your training programmes are successful, learning about the Kirkpatrick model may be beneficial. In this article, we discuss what the Kirkpatrick model is, describe its four levels and outline how you can implement it effectively.

What Is The Kirkpatrick Model?

Dr. Donald Patrick developed the Kirkpatrick model in 1959. This model is an internationally used tool that includes four levels of evaluation to assess the effectiveness of educational programmes and training sessions. By studying the results of their programmes, trainers can determine whether they were able to achieve their objectives. Corporate trainers, human resources and department heads can use this model while training employees.

Related: Types Of Workplace Training: Definitions And Examples

What Are The 4 Levels Of The Kirkpatrick Model?

The following are the four levels of the Kirkpatrick model:

Level 1: Reaction

The first level of this model evaluates trainee satisfaction and reaction to the programme. It measures whether the trainees found the programme relevant, constructive, engaging and applicable to their jobs. Most trainers distribute a post-training survey in the form of a questionnaire. This allows attendees to rate their experience on a scale or offer elaborate more feedback on the programme. As a trainer, you can also study trainees' body language, engagement levels and expressions to gauge their reaction to the programme. If you choose to distribute a questionnaire towards the end of your session, consider including the following questions:

  • Do you feel that you have learnt anything valuable through the programme?

  • Was the session relevant to your job and your career objectives?

  • Did you find the programme engaging?

  • Did you think that the activities conducted during the programme were relevant?

  • Do you have the resources necessary to apply your learning to your job?

  • Did you find the style of presentation interesting?

  • Did you get what you expected from the programme?

Level 2: Learning

This level involves testing trainees on what they have learned from the programme. You can test how the training helped employees to improve their skills, enhance their knowledge or increase their self-esteem. To make an accurate assessment, test your attendees before the training to gauge their knowledge and test them again after the programme to identify how they have improved.

You can use formal assessments for this level by asking trainees to answer questions based on what they learned during the session. While it is important to check if your trainees understood the session's core concepts, it is also important to ensure that the assessment is moderately difficult. If your trainees score low on the test, try to provide them with encouraging feedback rather than using negative reinforcement.

Related: How To Become A Skills Trainer (With Essential Skills)

Level 3: Behaviour

In the third stage, trainers determine if their training was effective by evaluating the behaviour of trainees. This level tests how well the trainees can apply what they have learned to their jobs. Here, it is important that the trainers provide appropriate resources to help them remember what they learned.

Department heads and team leaders can also be part of this process. You may ask them to observe how the performance of their team has changed following the training session. If they notice any improvement in their team members' behaviours, this indicates that the training was effective. The following are some questions you may ask at this level to determine whether your training programme was effective:

  • Are the trainees able to apply what they have learned?

  • Do you see any improvement in their confidence when they apply their learning?

  • Can they teach what they have learned to other team members?

  • Can they explain in simple terms what they have learned?

Level 4: Results

The final stage of the Kirkpatrick model is analysing the results of the programme. This involves studying the findings from all previous stages and identifying correlations between the training, the operations and the company's objectives. This stage is often the most time-consuming and expensive. You can use the findings from this stage to redevelop the existing training programme or create additional programmes for the same trainees to help them further their knowledge and skills.

Related: 9 Different Methods Of Training For Employees With Benefits

How To Use The Kirkpatrick Model Effectively?

The following are steps you can follow to implement the model effectively during a training programme:

1. Identify the objective of the programme

The first step of implementing this model is to determine the purpose of the training programme. This helps you understand how to help your trainees and what to assess once the training is complete. You may want to teach them a subject, educate them about protocols or help them develop their skills. Once you determine the objectives, you can create a training programme that tries to meet these goals.

Related: Essential Areas Of Improvement For Employees (With Tips)

2. Create a plan and schedule for the evaluation

The next step is to determine how you want to test your trainees after you complete the session. You can conduct practical exercises, distribute questionnaires, use formal assessments or utilise a combination of these methods. Then, determine a timeline for the evaluation so that you can conduct each stage in a time-effective manner. At this stage, you can also determine who might help you conduct these assessments at each level. For instance, you may want to involve certain managers, supervisors or team leaders at different stages.

Related: 11 eLearning Tools To Assist With Workplace Training

3. Inform the trainees about the objectives

Once training begins, start the programme by informing employees of the objectives. You can tell them about the programme structure, the purpose of different activities and also inform them about the assessments. Informing trainees about assessments and ratings can help ensure that trainees stay engaged throughout the session. It also ensures that attendees are aware of the programme's agenda and what their trainer expects from them.

4. Start collecting anonymous feedback after the session

Once the programme ends, collect feedback and observe how attendees react to the programme. To collect genuine feedback, it is important that they do this anonymously. Giving trainees the option to provide anonymous feedback may allow them to feel more comfortable about sharing their honest opinion.

5. Observe your trainees at work

After completing the first level of the model, you can assess your trainees to determine how much they have learned. Alongside the formal assessments, you can observe them as they do their jobs to see whether they are applying their learning. This helps you determine whether employees require additional training.

If you are unable to observe the trainees while they work, you can ask their managers or supervisors. You can provide a timeframe for the managers to observe the employees and ask them to notice if they are able to apply their new skills. To make this step effective, you can give the managers or supervisors an overview of the programme and guide them on which areas to observe.

Related: On-The-Job Training For Efficient Staff Development

6. Collect and analyse the data

This is one of the most important steps of implementing the Kirkpatrick model, as it involves collecting all data from relevant sources and analysing it. You can compile answers from the reaction stage, collect assessment results and gather observations from trainees' team members.

You can then use this data to identify correlations between different aspects of the training and the work conditions of the trainees. After you have processed all the information and analysed it, you can identify problem areas and implement changes to improve the programme for future sessions.

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