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Are you evaluating your training programs at all levels? Back in 1959, Dr. Donald Kirkpatrick developed the “4 Levels of Evaluation” and it is still the most widely used model to this day. Here are the four levels:
Level 1: Reaction – How did learners like the course?
Level 2: Learning – Did learners acquire new knowledge and skills?
Level 3: Behavior – Did learners apply new knowledge and skills on the job?
Level 4: Results – Did learners’ performance impact the organization?
We all know that levels 3 and 4 are more difficult and time consuming to measure. Level 2, on the other hand, is within our control and more familiar to most training professionals. But are you designing methods to show that an acceptable level of learning has taken place?
First, let’s discuss some of the benefits of conducting level 2 evaluations. We can:
- Determine the impact training had on the employees’ knowledge and skills.
- Identify strengths and weaknesses in the training.
- Secure more support from managers and upper management for future training programs.
So, what are the different types of tests that can be used at level 2?
These tests verify that both knowledge and skill have been acquired. The learners must perform the steps in the task. Some examples include a practice exercise, simulation, role play, or case study.
These tests verify that a required level of knowledge has been achieved. A quiz can be administered with different types of questions such as multiple choice, matching, re-sequencing, fill in the blank, and short answer. A game can be used which reinforces content in an enjoyable way. A critique is method where learners analyze the strengths and weaknesses of a subject. They apply the knowledge they’ve learned to make suggestions for improvements.
These are used at the beginning of the course to establish a baseline to compare the final test results. Keep in mind, we can skip the pre-test if the course material is brand new and the learners have no previous knowledge. We’d just assume the baseline is zero. We don’t want to waste precious time and resources if we can avoid it.
Level 2 evaluations can also provide important data from various perspectives:
From the learner’s perspective, it provides clear feedback on their performance in the training.
From an instructional design perspective, we can get answers to these questions:
- Has adequate preparation been provided to allow the participants to meet the standard?
- Are all questions on a non-performance test based on the presented material?
- Are questions well written?
- Is there one question missed more frequently than others?
- Is there adequate practice to ensure a high success rate on the performance tests?
- Does the course need updating or modification?
From the instructor’s perspective, we can determine whether the participants have been coached and developed to the point where they can meet the course objectives. We can also identify learners that have successfully gained the desired skills and learners who may need additional support. It also shows where we need to clarify or modify our delivery so the learners can be more successful.
At the departmental level, we show that learners have met the objectives the organization has identified for them and that they “can do” the required skill and knowledge. A well-designed test is the best predictor of the learners’ ability to perform back on the job. In short, it validates the training department has accomplished its slice of the job performance pie.
If you want to learn the essential skills you need to effectively evaluate your training, check out Langevin’s Evaluation of Training workshop!
If you have any success stories about your experiences with level 2 evaluations, please share!
This article was first published December 19, 2016.