Kirkpatrick Model Exploring

The Kirkpatrick Model has carved a niche for itself in the field of training and professional development. Widely acclaimed for its systematic structure, it serves as a valuable framework for evaluating the effectiveness of training programs. This comprehensive article will take you on a deep dive into the intricacies of the Kirkpatrick Model of Evaluation, its various applications, pros and cons, and the ways it can be effectively utilized in your organization to ensure maximum productivity and efficiency.

The Foundation of the Kirkpatrick Model

The genesis of the Kirkpatrick Model of Training Evaluation can be traced back to the late 1950s when Dr. Donald Kirkpatrick first introduced it as a structured four-tiered model for evaluating training programs. This model was later enhanced by his son, Jim Kirkpatrick, and daughter-in-law, Wendy Kirkpatrick, culminating in what we now refer to as the New World Kirkpatrick Model.

The model is often metaphorically described as a staircase, where each step signifies a level of evaluation, and each subsequent step depends on the success of the previous one. Each level provides vital insights into the effectiveness of a training program, aiding organizations in creating a positive learning environment.

Breaking Down the Kirkpatrick Model Levels

The Kirkpatrick Model encompasses four primary levels. These levels serve as the pillars that support the structure of this comprehensive model. Each level focuses on a specific area of training evaluation:

  1. Level 1: Reaction – Here, the immediate response of the participants towards the training is evaluated. Questions about the participants’ learning experience, their interest, and their perceived relevance of the material are addressed. This level is crucial as it provides direct feedback about the training from the participants’ perspective, which can help improve future sessions.
  2. Level 2: Learning – At this level, the focus is on what the participants have learned from the training. The increase in their knowledge or the improvement in their skills is evaluated. This involves understanding whether the participants have absorbed the new information, can they demonstrate the newly learned skills, and have their attitudes changed because of the training.
  3. Level 3: Behavior – This level evaluates the changes in the participants’ behavior after the training. This usually involves observing the participants in their work environment, conducting interviews, or running surveys. The goal is to identify if the training has made any significant impact on the participants’ actions and performances at work.
  4. Level 4: Results – The final level of the Kirkpatrick Model focuses on measuring the impact of the training on business outcomes. This could include increased productivity, improved quality of work, cost-effectiveness, reduced turnover, or other specific targets. It’s important to note that measuring this level can be challenging due to external factors that might also affect these outcomes.

Illustrating Kirkpatrick Model Examples

To better understand the application of the Kirkpatrick Model, let’s consider an example: a company decides to implement a new software system and conducts a training program to familiarize employees with it.

  1. Reaction: After the training, participants complete a feedback survey. The responses indicate that they found the training useful and engaging.
  2. Learning: A post-training test reveals that participants have successfully understood the software’s functionality.
  3. Behavior: In the following weeks, employees are observed to be using the software more efficiently, showing a change in behavior.
  4. Results: The adoption of the new software leads to increased productivity, thus achieving the desired business outcome.

The Pros and Cons of the Kirkpatrick Model

Like any other model, the Kirkpatrick Model has its strengths and weaknesses. Understanding these pros and cons of Kirkpatrick Model can help organizations effectively use it:


  • The model is straightforward, which makes it easy to understand and implement.
  • Its step-by-step approach helps evaluate the effectiveness of a training program comprehensively.
  • It highlights the importance of learning application, not just the learning itself.


  • The time investment for the model, especially for the higher levels of evaluation, can be significant.
  • Isolating the impact of training on business results can be challenging due to various influencing factors.

The ADDIE and Kirkpatrick Model Symbiosis

In training circles, the ADDIE Model is often paired with the ADDIE/Kirkpatrick Model. The former, an acronym for Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation, is used to design and develop the training. In contrast, the Kirkpatrick Model serves as a framework to evaluate that training, creating a robust and comprehensive approach to learning and development.


The Kirkpatrick Model has stood the test of time, signifying its value and importance in the realm of learning and development. Its layered, step-by-step approach offers a detailed method to assess the effectiveness of training. Understanding and effectively implementing this model can lead to tangible improvements in participant behavior and significant positive impacts on business outcomes. Remember, the true value of training lies not just in knowledge acquisition but in the application of that knowledge for continuous improvement and growth.

How can the Kirkpatrick Model help in improving the effectiveness of training programs?

The Kirkpatrick Model enables organizations to evaluate the effectiveness of their training programs at various levels, from initial reactions to measurable business outcomes. By assessing these different dimensions, organizations can identify areas of strength and areas that need improvement. This comprehensive feedback helps in fine-tuning future training sessions to make them more relevant, engaging, and beneficial.

What types of organizations or fields can benefit from using the Kirkpatrick Model?

The Kirkpatrick Model is versatile and applicable across a wide range of industries and sectors. Any organization that invests in training programs, whether they are businesses, educational institutions, non-profits, or government agencies, can use this model to measure the effectiveness of their training initiatives.

Can the Kirkpatrick Model be used to evaluate online or virtual training sessions?

Yes, the Kirkpatrick Model can certainly be applied to online or virtual training sessions. Regardless of the training delivery mode, this model provides a systematic way to assess the reaction, learning, behavior, and results associated with the training. The methodologies might vary – for example, online surveys for Level 1, online quizzes for Level 2, virtual observation for Level 3, and data analytics for Level 4 – but the principles remain the same.

How does the New World Kirkpatrick Model differ from the original Kirkpatrick Model?

The New World Kirkpatrick Model, an enhancement of the original one, introduced additional elements to make the model more comprehensive. It emphasizes the importance of a significant 'Level 0' - the identification of the desired result before training begins. It also includes considerations such as the relevance of the training to the participants' job roles and the support from the organization to apply learning, thus providing a more holistic approach to training evaluation.

What factors should be considered while implementing the Kirkpatrick Model for training evaluation?

When implementing the Kirkpatrick Model, organizations should consider the time and resources required, particularly for higher levels of evaluation. It's also crucial to ensure that the data collected at each level is accurate and relevant. Moreover, the organization must be mindful of the fact that changes in business results may be influenced by external factors and not solely by the training program.

Can the Kirkpatrick Model be integrated with other training models or theories?

Yes, the Kirkpatrick Model can work symbiotically with other training models or theories. A popular example is the ADDIE Model, where the Kirkpatrick Model is used to evaluate the training program designed and developed by the ADDIE process. Additionally, the Kirkpatrick Model could be used in conjunction with learning theories like adult learning theory (Andragogy) or experiential learning theory for a more comprehensive learning and development strategy.