Kirkpatrick’s Four-level Training Evaluation Model

The duty of the guru outside you is to make you aware of the guru within you― Swami Rama


Rabindranath Tagore said that “the highest education is that which does not merely give us information but makes our life in harmony with all existence.” How do we measure the effectiveness of the studies done by children? The answer is the results of the examination. How do we assess the effectiveness of our performance in our practical life? When we see the growth in the career. How do we evaluate the true success of our life? When we see the calmness in our behaviour, healthy mind & body and how do we deal with different situations in life.


A recent study on workplace learning found that only 11% of employees applied the skills they learned in training to their job. This statistic highlights a significant disconnect between the training organizations are offering and their employees’ actual needs.

So how do you bridge this gap?

The first step is measurement. You need to understand what is working (and what isn’t) so you can design and develop programs that meet the needs of your employees and the business. Therefore, measuring training effectiveness is vital for all companies and organizations of all sizes.

There are 5 different and popular methodologies to monitor the training effectiveness (Kirkpatrick’s Four-level Training Evaluation Model, The Phillips ROI Model, Kaufman’s Five Levels of Evaluation, Anderson’s Model of Learning Evaluation, Summative vs. Formative Evaluation).

The Kirkpatrick Evaluation Model helps businesses do just that.

This evaluation model is the most popular methodology which is utilized throughout the world as it leads to higher employee performance and satisfaction, boosts team morale, and increases your return on investment (ROI).

Read More:


Competence (ISO 9000: 2015, Cl 3.10.4): Ability to apply knowledge and skills to achieve intended results

Skill (ISO 30401: 2018, Cl 3.30): Learned capacity to perform a task to a specified expectation

Knowledge (ISO 30401: 2018, Cl 3.25): Human or organizational asset enabling effective decisions and actions in the context

Detailed Information

What is Training Effectiveness?

Training effectiveness measures the impact of training on the participant’s knowledge, skills, performance, and the company’s ROI (Return on Investment). The training’s goals and objectives should be determined before training occurs, allowing these to be clearly and accurately measured.

Why Training Effectiveness Monitoring is Important?

There are numerous reasons to monitor the training effectiveness. The 3 key reasons for monitoring the effectiveness include

  1. Impact of training on the participants
  2. Improvement in business performance
  3. Gaps in the training process and improvement

How to Measure Training Effectiveness?

Measuring the training effectiveness is a routine event. There are different methodologies followed by organizations. It could be filling out a questionnaire (before and after the training), one-to-one interaction, survey, feedback from relevant stakeholders, etc. The important thing is whether the organization has decided what needs to be achieved before planning the training.

There are different techniques to measure the training effectiveness. The five most popular techniques are

  1. Kirkpatrick’s Four-level Training Evaluation Model
  2. The Phillips ROI Model
  3. Kaufman’s Five Levels of Evaluation
  4. Anderson’s Model of Learning Evaluation
  5. Summative vs. Formative Evaluation

Kirkpatrick’s Four-level Training Evaluation Model: Donald Kirkpatrick, former Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin, first published his model in 1959. He updated it in 1975, and again in 1993, when he published his best-known work, “Evaluating Training Programs.”

The 4 levels for the training evaluation include

Level 1: Reaction

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

It enables the organization to make improvements to future programs, by identifying important topics that might have been missing.

A crucial component of Level 1 analysis is a focus on the learner versus the trainer. While it may feel natural for a facilitator to fixate on the training outcome (such as content or learning environment), the Kirkpatrick Model encourages survey questions that concentrate on the learner’s takeaways.

Level 2: Learning

Level 2 focuses on measuring what the participants have and haven’t learned. In the New World version of the tool, Level 2 also measures what they think they’ll be able to do differently as a result, how confident they are that they can do it, and how motivated they are to make changes.

To measure how much trainees have learned, the first step is to identify what the organization wants to evaluate. Training sessions should have specific learning objectives.

Before the training begins, the participants can be tested to determine their knowledge, skill levels and attitudes. Then, when the training is finished, test the trainees a second time to measure what they’ve learned, or measure their learning with interviews or verbal assessments. A defined, clear scoring process must be determined in advance to reduce inconsistencies.

Level 3: Behaviour

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

This level starts 3–6 months after training. This level helps you to understand how well people apply their training. It can also reveal where people might need help. But behaviour can only change when conditions are favourable.

Imagine that you’re assessing your team members after a training session. You can see little change, and you conclude that they learned nothing and that the training was ineffective.

It’s possible, however, that they learned a lot, but that the organizational or team culture obstructs behavioural change. Perhaps existing processes mean that there’s little scope to apply new thinking.

As a result, the participants don’t feel confident in applying new knowledge or see few opportunities to do so. Or, they may not have had enough time to put it into practice.

Be sure to develop processes that encourage, reinforce and reward positive changes in behaviour. The New World Kirkpatrick Model calls these processes “required drivers.” If a team member uses a new skill effectively, highlight this and praise them for it.

Effectively measuring behaviour is a longer-term process that should take place over weeks or months following the initial training.

Questions to ask include:

Did the trainees put any of their learning to use?

Are trainees able to teach their new knowledge, skills or attitudes to other people?

Are trainees aware that they’ve changed their behaviour?

Level 4: Results

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

Level Four measures the learning against an organization’s business outcomes— the Key Performance Indicators that were established before learning was initiated.

At this level, the organization can analyze the final results of the training. This includes outcomes that the organization has decided are good for business and good for your team members, and which demonstrate a good return on investment (ROI).

Level 4 will likely be the costliest and most time-consuming. The biggest challenge will be to identify which outcomes, benefits, or final results are most closely linked to the training, and to come up with an effective way to measure these outcomes in the long term.

Benefits of Evaluating Training Effectiveness

  • Cost efficiency
  • Increased employee retention
  • Increased production
  • Higher morale
  • Reduced waste
  • Increased sales
  • Higher-quality ratings
  • Increased customer satisfaction
  • Fewer staff complaints

How to Effectively Plan and Implement?

When you go on a road trip, you don’t just get in your car, start driving, and hope you get to your destination – you first identify your destination, plan how you’ll get there, where you’ll stay overnight, and what you’ll do when you get there. 

Modern trainers often use the Kirkpatrick model backward, by first stating the results that they want to see, and then developing the training that’s most likely to deliver them. This helps to prioritize the goals of the training and make it more effective.

Training should be the same way – you don’t want to simply launch a program without first aligning your training to the desired result.

The following are the 4 key questions that need to be asked before planning the training

  • Which results do we aim to achieve?
  • What do people need to do differently?
  • What knowledge and skills do they need?
  • How do we design an attractive training program?
    • Level 4: Impact/Result
    • Level 3: Behaviour
    • Level 2: Learning
    • Level 1: Reaction

Limitations with Kirkpatrick Model:

The drawback is that Levels 3 and 4, which arguably yield the most useful information for the business, are time-consuming, resource-intensive, and expensive to implement. So, the model may not be practical for all organizations, especially if the organizations don’t have dedicated training or an HR department to conduct the analysis. And it’s not ideal for all situations, such as one-off training.


Training evaluation helps organizations with the identification of training gaps and opportunities in training their employees. The systematic process of training evaluation boosts employee morale, helps improve overall work quality, and is essential to overall training effectiveness. By working backward on the Kirkpatrick 4 levels, you can develop training initiatives that are effective and impactful—and directly tied to measurable outcomes.

Read More:

Industry Challenges:

  • How often training needs are being identified based on the business requirements?
  • How often the selection of participants is done so that business targets can be achieved?
  • How often does the organization have a structured mechanism like the Kirkpatrick model to assess whether the training is fulfilling the business requirements or not?

Read More:


ISO 9001: 2015

IATF 16949: 2016

IATF 16949: 2016, Sanctioned Interpretation & FAQ

Industry Experts

This is the 163rd article of this Quality Management series. Every weekend, you will find useful information that will make your Management System journey Productive. Please share it with your colleagues too.

In the words of Albert Einstein, “The important thing is never to stop questioning.” I invite you to ask anything about the above subject. Questions and answers are the lifeblood of learning, and we are all learning. I will answer all questions to the best of my ability and promise to keep personal information confidential.

Your genuine feedback and response are extremely valuable. Please suggest topics for the coming weeks.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments