The Kirkpatrick Model of Training Evaluation

The Kirkpatrick Training Evaluation Model:
Simple, Brilliant and Now Practical Thanks to Sprezie

The Kirkpatrick Model is the most widely accepted training evaluation model in the world. In fact, there are more Google searches associated with “Kirkpatrick” than for "training evaluation.” The model was developed by Dr. Donald J. Kirkpatrick in 1959, and it has changed how the world thinks about measuring training.  It is a wonderful model.  However, while being simple to understand, few use it because it’s too difficult and expensive to implement - until now.

Here’s how the Kirkpatrick Model of Training Evaluation works:

Did people:

  1. Like the training
  2. Learn the concepts
  3. Use the behaviors
  4. Produce the desired organizational results

Kirkpatrick and Associates refer to Level 3 as the missing link.   It's the most time-consuming and difficult to measure, stopping most organizations from even making the attempt. 

Now, perhaps you’re familiar with the qualm, “We would love to know our training works, but we... uh… can’t.  We don’t know how to measure it.”  Got good news for you: you have some high-caliber company.  Kirkpatrick and Associates refer to Level 3 as the missing link. 

The Kirkpatrick Barriers

At a recent ATD conference, an informal survey of attendees found that 85% of the people in attendance knew the ins and outs of the Kirkpatrick model.  Of those who knew the model, 30% had made it to Level 2 (learn the concepts).  Here’s the interesting part: Less than one percent said they had achieved Level 4.  One person explained how his organization had spent tens of thousands of dollars to reach Level 4 for a single training program. The process was so expensive and time-intensive that they could never do it again. Therein lies the Kirkpatrick problem - its easy to understand and extremely difficult to implement. 

In our research we found three significant barriers to implementing the Kirkpatrick Model.

First, most organizations do not have the research experts or experience needed to collect the necessary data.   Writing a good survey question is difficult.  Focus group are more difficult.  Random control trials are extremely difficult, and that goes for people with advanced degrees.  Organizations don’t keep researchers in their training department but, if they did, training populations constantly move throughout organizations.  This renders data collection almost impossible, and implementing the Kirkpatrick Model a Herculean task.

Second, everything is extra work, requiring it's own project management, budget, and resources.  To do it right using the Kirkpatrick Model, measuring training can be more expensive than the training itself.  In addition to extra work, it often requires extra people so the people doing the evaluation are not the same people doing the training.  Few organizations have the budget, time, or resources to do a full Level 4 evaluation. 

Third, there tends to be little benefit for the trainee to participate after the training is over.  All the data goes to the organization and the trainers.  The way the model is designed, trainees don’t see the results but the Kirkpatrick Model still requires their time and effort.  Data collection is usually a difficult task and is even more difficult when there is no incentive for people to participate.

Sprezie removes each of the three barriers

First, using Sprezie, each trainee sets a Do Differently™ goal and that goal becomes the basis of all the questions that follow.  No more experts needed. 

Second, data collection is built into the Sprezie process of supporting trainees as they work to develop new behaviors on-the-job.  Data collection is not a separate process, it’s a by-product of achieving the primary training objective - change.

Third, Sprezie designed to help each trainee succeed.  Trainees are motivated to participate because it helps them succeed.  Trainees have access to their own data so they can use it to track their progress.  

Sprezie is the missing link that makes the Kirkpatrick Model of Training Evaluation practical.