Kirkpatrick’s Training Evaluation Model

If you are in a field that manages people’s health or money, you probably have taken compliance training at some point during your career. The real question is, did you get something meaningful out of it? Done correctly, corporate training can have a huge impact on your employees and the organization at large. The best kinds can be culture changing and innovation embracing. How can you determine how effective your training is and identify ways to implement it better?

Consider using Kirkpatrick’s Four-Level Training Evaluation Model to evaluate where your training regime stands, in terms of effectiveness and meaningfulness. Kirkpatrick’s Training Evaluation Model has 4 components: Reaction, Learning, Behavior, and Results. Let’s discuss.

Level #1: REACTION

The degree to which participants find the training favorable, engaging, and relevant to their jobs.

The first level is about how the training was perceived. Were the trainees bored to tears or falling asleep on their keyboards? Alternatively, if you are training from an instructor-led method, was your audience rapt with attention, making eye contact, and asking questions? User-level opinions matter and evaluating their gut reactions to training is essential to identify what is working and what is not.

Make sure to survey your audience to see if they liked it. It’s important to have end-users evaluate the training because they are the intended audience. A designer of the training might be biased; after all, it’s their baby and they have put a lot of design and editing time into it. However, the best designers love innovating, and well-thought out criticism is the mother of invention.

Was there a wow factor to the training? If you can’t think of one right away or if your trainees aren’t commenting on it, then you need to rethink your approach to training. Little changes have big impacts. Try making role-specific training. This approach checks both the engagement box and the job relevancy box off your list. Most people don’t care about general guidelines the company follows. They care about the few specific rules that directly intersect with their daily life and challenges. Peruse industry trends, and try to bring an element of new to the table.


The degree to which participants acquire the intended knowledge, skills, attitude, confidence, and commitment based on their participation in the training.

Level Two evaluates if learning occurred. The best way to tackle this is to have clearly determined learning objectives from the start. If the training objectives are basic, if the goal is simply “to have all my employees read the compliance regulations so we do not get in trouble with the government in case of compliance violations,” then I’ve got news for you. Your training output is going to consist of bored people who read slides without bothering to retain the content past the rote memorization they need to pass a 5-question quiz. However, if your goal is “to educate employees on compliance regulations in order to protect the rights and well-being of clients,” well then, that is a game changer. The human component makes training relevant, and dare I say matter on a more personal level, connecting the employee and client in a brotherhood of man kind of way.

Quantify the learning that is occurring. Specifically, in your next training session conduct both a pre-test and a post-test. Ideally, the scores will go up after the training session, thus supporting the theory that learning is obtained. Not in love with standardized testing? Shake things up by encouraging your employees to act out the skills they have learned through demo scenarios and role play. This creates a space for creativity and critical thinking. After all, the trainees cannot memorize answers if the questions are open-ended.


The degree to which participants apply what they learned during training when they are back on the job.

Effective training doesn’t stop after the instructor-led session ends or when an eLearning module is complete and the scores are submitted. The true test of effectiveness is in whether behavior has changed. Observe your employees to determine if they are putting their learning to use.

For instance, if the training was culture based, are you seeing a positive shift? Are your Customer Service Representatives being more empathetic and displaying active listening skills, or are they still being abrupt and alienating customers? If the training educated learners in how to use an application, are they actually able to use it now, or are they still asking for help every five minutes?

Keep in mind the environment has to be change-friendly. It’s one thing to say you are changing company culture to be more customer-centric, but if the corporate level goals still only reward quantity of calls over quality, then there is no systematic support or motivation for Customer Service Representatives to follow through with their newly learned skills. Look at all the factors involved before you make a determination.

Level #4 RESULTS

The degree to which targeted outcomes occur as a result of the training, and the support and accountability package.

Level Four boils down to what is the return on investment. What is the overall outcome or long-term impact of the training? If you have hired contract instructional designers, are they producing quality work that is furthering the corporation goals? If you have purchased a new LMS, is it user-friendly and is the migration of compliance courses going smoothly?

The last stage is vital. In fact, some trainers start with this stage in order to better align their training goals with the desired outcome. The worst thing you can do is to train for training’s sake. Each new training session or eLearning should be designed with a goal in mind. It should further the cause of a behavior or culture change in the working environment or the spread of knowledge in a particular section or application. Remember to focus on the organizational mission, identify critical behaviors, and most importantly constantly re-adjust and improve the training process based on the feedback you receive.




Kirkpatrick, Donald. “Our Philosophy.” Kirkpatrick Partners, The One and Only Kirkpatrick Company®,

Mindtools Content Team. “Kirkpatrick’s Four-Level Training Evaluation Model Analyzing Training Effectiveness.” Kirkpatrick’s Training Evaluation Model – Learning Skills From,