Using Kirkpatrick Model of Training Evaluation

Posted by

Samantha Martin-Woodgate

on 27 Dec 2023

Training is an essential part of any compliance programme. But how can you track its effectiveness? One way is by using the Kirkpatrick Model.

Using Kirkpatrick Model of Training Evaluation

Given that people are your biggest risk for non-compliance, it's important to review and evaluate the effectiveness of your compliance training regularly.

This sounds like a great idea in theory, but where do you start?

Fortunately, Donald Kirkpatrick designed a training evaluation technique in the 1950s known as the Kirkpatrick Model. It helps training course creators evaluate whether or not their courses are effective.

Kirkpatrick Model levels of evaluation

What is the Kirkpatrick Model?

It helps you to evaluate the success of workplace training, from whether learners understand the material to what extent company policies are followed in the workplace, as well as the impact it has had on the success of the business.

We'll walk through the four steps of the Kirkpatrick model and explain how it can be applied to your workplace training.

Kirkpatrick level 1

How did learners react to the training?

Kirkpatrick argued that learner satisfaction was a crucial element of course design. This seems obvious today but was by no means obvious at the time. People learn best when they are interested and engaged in what they are learning.

The more interested they are, the more motivated they become to find out more, helping them to get the most out of training. If learners aren't satisfied, Kirkpatrick argued, then knowledge retention would be limited, and the efficacy of training would be reduced.

Just like you would with a new website or product, asking for user feedback is an essential part of the evaluation process when developing a compliance training course.

You could ask for staff to fill out a quick questionnaire ("happy sheet") to assess their overall level of satisfaction. But for more useful feedback, it helps to make your questions more direct and specific. Did they find the information presented in the course relevant? Are there any work situations where they will use the new skills they have learned? Did they enjoy the way in which the material was presented?

These questions need to be relevant and specific to the course. For example, following a health and safety compliance course, you might want to ask a question like, "In what ways has the course helped you identify new hazards in the workplace?" It's also worth asking participants whether there were any technical problems with the delivery of the course and whether they were able to access all the relevant online materials. Accessibility matters.

Free E-Learning Accessibility Checklist

Kirkpatrick level 2

What is the level of knowledge acquired?

The second important factor that the Kirkpatrick model considers is the level of knowledge and skill acquisition achieved on the course. In other words, what percentage of the material that your participants were supposed to learn did they actually learn?

So, how do you find this out?

If you're using a Learning Management System to conduct your compliance training, you could use a course with a game or quiz at the end of each section. This allows learners to engage with the course directly as well as provide statistics about how well they have retained the information. Quizzes and games also help to make the training more interactive and engaging for people.

You may decide to offer refresher training, too, which can also be generated through your LMS as a recurring training course. Or it could even be issued in the form of an app. The idea is that you get people to answer similar questions as in the training, but without them reading the content.

Kirkpatrick level 3

Are the appropriate behaviours being implemented?

Imparting knowledge is part of the picture, but what you really want to understand is how much knowledge staff can apply to real-world situations back at their desk. Sometimes, measuring the impact of training is relatively straightforward. For instance, you may see health and safety incidents reduced.

Often, though, it can be hard to measure effectiveness. How do you measure that people are following anti-bribery practices? Is it a case of 'no news is good news', and that if we aren't aware that bribery is being committed, then it must not be? What you can do, however, is carry out regular reviews to check that people would take the right action when presented with a given scenario.

Kirkpatrick level 4

What effect did training have on the business?

Kirkpatrick's final method of evaluation looks at how training has impacted the business or the work environment. To do this, we need to set clear objectives before the training takes place.

Maybe there is a recurring health and safety issue, and you want to see the numbers reduced. What impact does this have on your ability to deliver for customers? What impact might it have on employee satisfaction and retention? All these things - and more - could be measured to see if the training is having the desired business outcomes.

The Kirkpatrick model wasn't designed just to be another process in developing effective training programmes. Instead, it was meant to be a call to action, highlighting things about learning courses that need to be improved.

If you want your staff to adhere to your organisation's compliance processes and policies, you need to make sure you are delivering effective training that will positively impact your compliance goals.

This relies on actively seeking feedback from those completing the training, testing their level of knowledge to ensure the information has been accurately received, measuring actual performance to ensure the right behaviours have been acquired and then assessing the impact of these new behaviours against compliance goals.

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Key workplace learning theories

Kirkpatrick model is just one of six of the most well-established learning theories we've examined to help improve your outcomes.

  1. Instructional design
  2. The 70-20-10 rule
  3. Storytelling
  4. Lateral thinking
  5. Microlearning

Looking for more compliance insights?

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Finally, the SkillcastConnect community provides a unique opportunity to network with other compliance professionals in a vendor-free environment, priority access to our free online learning portal and other exclusive benefits.

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