Training's Effectiveness

Today I was in a meeting with a client, talking about training. It felt like deja vu all over again. For over 25 years, I've heard clients talk about how expensive (in time and money) training is, and how you never seem to know whether it did anything good for the organization.

Today, T&D blogger Don "Big Dog" Clark has hit the ball out of the park with his entry about Donald Kirkpatrick's legendary 4-levels of training evaluation.

Years ago, Kirkpatrick had a breakthrough when he coined the four levels for evaluating a training program:

Level 1 - Reaction to the training program, often using what many derisively call "smile sheets." Despite the criticism, Kirkpatrick has stood by the value of level one evals. These are customer surveys.

Level 2 - Learning: What did the trainees learn? How much did they learn? Typically level two is measured by some sort of testing.

Level 3 - Performance: Can the trainees perform the learned skills back on the job?

Level 4 - Results: What was the impact of the training on the business? Can we measure a return on investment?

In a brilliant flash, Don Clark says: Flip the 4 levels upside down. It becomes a planning tool!

By starting the training planning process with level four thinking, the T&D professionals and the client ask themselves, What business results do we want to affect by doing this training?

This amounts to a Return on Expectations approach to training.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, December 17, 2008

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