Kirkpatricks 4 levels of learning theory model-1

People Development and Kirkpatrick’s 4 Levels of Learning

Kirkpatrick 4 Levels of Learning Evaluation Model – an introduction for companies seeking to further develop their personnel.

Kirkpatrick 4 levels of learning Kirkpatrick's 4 levels

In a world where a company’s success is determined by the knowledge, attitude and work ethic of the staff within it, how do we ensure that the company can adapt, grow and succeed in this ever-changing environment? If the aim is to have the staff share the company goals, then they need to be developed to think broadly about their role and not just focus on the clock.

So, when does the strategy for dealing with people development start – at recruitment, at induction or in an environment of change management? What are the best tools for measuring development?

Benefits of the ‘Kirkpatrick’s 4 levels’ model

Choose the Right Tools

One of the most widely used development tools is the Kirkpatrick 4 Levels of Learning Evaluation Model. Using Kirkpatrick’s 4 levels can generate valuable information and provide a snapshot of staff perceptions.

  • The first level, Reaction, asks what the audience thought of the information session as a whole.
  • The second level, Learning, reviews if the audience absorbed the key points of the message/training such as what has changed and why?
  • The third level, Behaviour, looks at the change in audience behaviour after the training. The fourth level, Results, examines if the overall exercise was effective.

Cultural Change

Each level needs to be reviewed for effectiveness. The results of the assessments also need to be interpreted appropriately for the company.

This is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach.

In a recent blog on ‘Cultural Change Methodology as a Competency’, several factors were listed in order to overcome resistance to change:

  • developing multiple communication strategies to ensure all stakeholders are reached
  • identifying everyone affected by the change and targeting your communication accordingly
  • understanding motivation and that it is different for everyone
  • empowering people and including them in the discussions on how the change can best be implemented and sustained.

All of these points lead to the question of how to break the ‘noise’ barrier that exists in communication – hearing does not mean listening. People react differently to different forms of communication eg. oral, visual, and practical demonstrations.

So, we need to develop training that delivers the same message in various ways for the different identified user groups – the ‘audience’.

As lives may depend on the Pharma and Medical Device industries getting all of this right, it is important that ‘People Development’ strategies are planned, implemented, measured and assessed appropriately.

The future of professional development

While Kirkpatrick’s model has been around since the 1950s, it is still one of the most common management tools in use today as it deals with people.

As we move further towards distance learning and e-learning, particular in the wake of the pandemic showing that we can, indeed, successfully implement web-based training via Zoom, how many of Kirkpatrick’s principles and tools will remain in play?

Where people, e.g. Training Professionals in classroom-based situations, are taken out of the training room — how can we best measure the effectiveness of training?

  • Should we still strive for feedback where there is no dispute with the facts of the training?
  • Is the effectiveness of e-learning courses measured purely on high participant numbers and assessment attempts?
  • Can organisations rely on these methods alone in a move to save costs?

Will face-to-face training (via Zoom, most likely) be back?

Is there a compromise between face-to-face training and e-learning?

Facilitated e-learning training sessions require even more understanding of the benefits of both methods.

If organisations are to continue to effectively use Kirkpatrick’s techniques, they must develop their trainers, who effectively manage the interface between corporate goals and people priorities and help drive successful change.

Further reading and training program design resources

Self-paced training (eLearning) – Pros and Cons compared to classroom training

Top 10 online training course completion tips (completion ratios for eLearning/online learning)

10 Steps for Managing a GMP Compliance Training Program

Page last updated on September 14, 2022.