Not Doing Training Evaluation? Start Easy with Kirkpatrick's Level One

Updated: Aug 12

Employee training is expensive. Management wants to know the ROI on training investment. If you are not evaluating your training programs today, your company is at risk of wasting time, budget, and resources. At the end of the day, why train if they are not effective?


There are many models of learning evaluation such as Kirkpatrick, Kaufman, Anderson, and Brinkerhoff. So which one should companies use? It depends on the maturity of the company when it comes to training. However, if you are not even doing evaluation today, you are better off to start with Kirkpatrick's model of learning evaluation. Why? It's easy to understand and for companies who have never done training evaluation, level one and two are easy to implement.

Level 1: Reaction. Kirkpatrick's level one evaluation is designed to measure the learner's experience. Questions are designed to measure their satisfaction towards content, trainer, and materials. The evaluation is often administered immediately after the training.


Level 2: Learning. Level two focuses on knowledge retention. The evaluation is usually done in the form of a test to assess whether learning has transferred. Level two evaluation can be administered immediately after the training (e.g. eLearning) or one week or month later to ensure training has not only transferred but that it sticks.


Companies with a mature learning organization would implement level three and four of Kirkpatrick's model of learning evaluation. It does get tricky as level three measures learning application and requires employees and sometimes managers to complete the evaluation without subjectivity. Finally, level 4 is the most difficult to implement as companies need to be able to measure ROI in their training investment. This means, training needs to be linked to company performance or results, which is not always straightforward.


Implementing and administering level three and four is quite labor-intensive. Companies with small training departments or tight budgets are not likely to get this far. Start with level one and two as the data provides companies with good insight into whether they have the right training in place to improve employees' skills, thus making a positive impact on company performance.


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