You are on page 1of 4

Theory: Learning and Training Evaluation Theory Theorist: Donald L.

Kirkpatrick Biography: Donald L Kirkpatrick is best known for his Kirkpatricks Learning and Training Evaluation Theory, which was published as a four part series: Parts 1 and 2 in 1959 and Parts 3 and 4 in 1960 (Bumpas and Wade, 1990). The theory was first published in the Journal of American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), an organization for which Kirkpatrick has served as president. The articles have since been revised by Kirkpatrick in his 1975 book, Evaluating Training Programs, with an update of his four levels of training occurring in his 1998 book, Evaluating Training Programs: The Four Levels. Kirkpatrick received his BBA, MBA, and PhD from the University of Wisconsin where he is a Professor Emeritus. (Chapman, 2008) Description of Theory: Kirkpatricks Learning and Training Evaluation Theory originated from Donald Kirkpatricks desire to clarify the elusive term evaluation (Kirkpatrick, 1975). Kirkpatrick noticed that there was not a clear definition used when defining evaluation between various companies and organizations, however four distinct variations and beliefs became evident during his research. The first had evaluation used as a tool to measure the changes in behavior as a result of training. The second had evaluation used as a term to describe the results of a training program. The third observation was the use of comment sheets for data collection. The last used learning in the classroom as the way to increase knowledge, skill improvement, and overall attitudinal change. Kirkpatrick

believed that all four were correct but was convinced that all four approaches, used in conjunction would yield a superior definition to the term evaluation (Kirkpatrick, 1975). Kirkpatrick developed a four level sequence that can be used to evaluate a variety of programs: Level 1 - Reaction, Level 2 - Learning, Level 3 - Behavior, and Level 4 Results. Each level of the sequence is important and has an impact on the next level. The process of moving from one level to the next is increasingly difficult but the information gained during the process is invaluable. It is important to never skip a level in order to move to the next. However, if the desired outcome does not involve a behavioral change, which occurs at level three, only the first two levels need be used. Even with the use of only the first two levels, an increase in knowledge, skill improvement, and attitudinal change could occur. If the desired outcome is a change in behavior then the use of all four levels is necessary (Kirkpatrick, 1975). Reaction measures how a participant reacts to the training program. A positive correlation has been found between an individuals performance and a positive reaction to the learning environment. According to Kirkpatrick, measuring reaction is important for four reasons. First, it allows for suggestions on improving the program in the future. Second, it is a way of informing the trainees that the trainers are there to help them do a better job. Third, it allows for the collection of quantitative data for managers. Fourth, it allows for the collection of quantitative data for trainers to use in the future (Kirkpatrick, 1975). Learning is defined by Kirkpatrick (1975) as the extent to which participants change attitudes, improve knowledge, and/or increase skill as a result of attending the program.

Kirkpatrick (1975) defined behavior as the extent to which change in the behavior has occurred because the participant attended the training program. During the results level it is important to look at the information collected during the first three levels and use that information to decide whether the objectives have been accomplished. According to Kirkpatrick (1975) change will only occur if the following four conditions occur: 1. The person must have the desire to change.

2. The person must know what to do and how to do it. 3. The person must work in the right climate. 4. The person must be rewarded for changing. Theory Measurement/Instrumentation: Kirkpatrick had a measurement tool for each level. In Level 1 Reaction: Reaction/Smile/Happy Sheets are used along with verbal reaction and post-training surveys and questionnaires (Kirkpatrick, 1975). Level 2 Learning: classroom performance, paper and pencil tests, as well as interviews and/or observations (Ely, Plomp, and Plomp, 1996). In Level 3 Behavior: interviews and observation performed overtime are required to ensure that a change has indeed taken place (Ely, Plomp, and Plomp, 1996). Level 4 Results: data collection and retention instruments should already be in place at the company or organization, the data from the process just is simply entered into the entitys instrument (Kirkpatrick, 1975). Report Prepared By: Jason Prather

References: Bumpas, S. and Wade, D (1990). Measuring participant performance: An alternative. Australian Journal of Educational Technology 1990, 6(2), 99-107. Retrieved September 17, 2009, from Chapman, A., (2008). Kirkpatricks learning and training evaluation model the four levels of learning evaluation. Retrieved September 16, 2008, from learningevaluationmodel.htm Ely, D., Plomp, T., and Plomp, TJ (1996). Classic Writings on Instructional Technology, Volume I. Connecticut: Libraries Unlimited. Kirkpatrick, D. (1975). Evaluating Training Programs. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler. Kirkpatrick, D. (1998). Evaluation Training Programs: The Four Levels, 2nd Edition. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.