Using Kirkpatrick Model to Evaluate Employee Training

Designing Digitally


Using Kirkpatrick Model To Evaluate Employee Training

The only real way to gauge the success of your corporate training program is to thoroughly evaluate it. Getting feedback from employees is a helpful tool, of course, but there is a method that is more extensive and goes a little deeper.

Kirkpatrick Model was created by Dr. Don Kirkpatrick in the 1950s as a way to assess the effectiveness of training programs. It’s founded on the principle that four key elements can indicate how well your program is working. These four components are the learner’s reaction to the training, knowledge or skill acquisition, application of new knowledge or skills on the job, and the achievement of goals.

Let’s take a deeper look at each of these factors and how they are measured.

Learner’s Reaction

Within this first element of Kirkpatrick’s model are three questions that can be asked of the employee participants.

  • How satisfied were you with this course?
  • Did you feel engaged as you worked through the program?
  • Was the content relevant to you and your work?

The way this data is gathered is through the use of questionnaires or reaction feedback forms. The value of these answers is to identify any problems and to get a general idea of how the learners feel about the activity. This is not a definitive judgment on the efficacy of the training program.

Knowledge or skill acquisition

Kirkpatrick’s point of view is that the evidence of learning is changed behavior. Evaluating the extent of learning that the employee achieved as a direct result of the training program is crucial.

While actual practices may vary from company to company, there are some general methods by which this type of assessment is performed.

  • A written test. This test is to see what prior knowledge the learners have, as well as to gauge attitudes.
  • A performance test. This test assesses actual skills.

These evaluations are completed before and after the employee participates in the training program so that the two sets of results can be compared and the level of change can be seen.


The knowledge that employees gain isn’t worth much if they aren’t applying what they’ve learned to their work. The idea is to measure how much the training affects behavior.

Kirkpatrick’s theory is that a worker will be more motivated to apply what they’ve learned when they are given incentives. Rewards are an encouragement to put know-how to use and to work harder to mold their behaviors into what’s desired by their employer.             

There are a number of ways that the level of application can be assessed including performance benchmarks, observation, surveys, and peer review. It is recommended that this type of evaluation be put off for two or three months after the training is completed to get an accurate picture.

Achievement of goals

A company will always be concerned with their bottom line. The fourth part of Kirkpatrick Model is to measure if the employee eLearning training program met business expectations.

Some of the metrics that will be looked at are:

  • Reduced costs.
  • Increased sales.
  • Higher productivity.

What’s next?

If the results of this four-part evaluation show that your employee training isn’t working as well as it should, use the data you’ve gathered to make improvements. If the outcome is positive, you can assume that your course is effective and you should keep it up!

Contact Designing Digitally, Inc. today to evaluate your current training needs.