Evaluating Training and Development LO25286

From: Burt Perrin (Burt_Perrin@compuserve.com)
Date: 09/03/00


Replying to LO25269 where Rick Karash said:

>When I first made the career change from high-tech management to
>organizational learning consultant, I was taught by my clients this four
>level scheme for thinking about evaluation of training and development:

>(snip)
>
>I believe the four levels above are something of a classic
>piece in T&D literature, but I don't know whom to credit.

This, of course, is the Kirkpatrick model of training evaluation. While
this model may have been useful 30 oddyears ago when it first came out, in
my view it has major limitations. Its major problem is that it is overly
simplistic and so linear. Kirkpatrick speaks of the 4 levels of evaluation
of training: 1) satisfaction (the happy sheets), 2) learning, 3)
application on the job, and 4) impact on the organization. Very little
training is subject to meaningful evaluation (although the situation may
be improving a bit). I wonder if the Kirkpatrick model may be part of the
problem. People start with level 1, perhaps get at level 2, and then never
get around to determining if the training was indeed appropriate or made a
difference - questions which should have been addressed in the first
instance. As as example of this, consider Rick's comment that: "One of my
clients, with a world-wide reputation as a leader in T&D, set an objective
a couple years ago to conduct good Level 2 evals of all their training
activities."

One does not have to have satisfaction - or even learning - for training
to be worthwhile, in at least some instances. For example, people may hate
the training, giving it terrible ratings - but it can still make a
difference on the job and to the organization (as well as beyond). The
converse, of course, is also true. And as e.g. Bob Brinkerhoff (whose own
model of training evaluation in my view, is much more useful than
Brinkerhoff's) has pointed out, there can be benefits to an organization
which promotes a culture of training (as well as "irrelevant" training,
e.g. Chinese cooking), e.g. improved morale and customer service,
increased interest (and activity) in ongoing learning, increased
cross-functional contact, etc. that may have little to do with actual
participation in training.

[Host's Note: "..more useful than Kirkpatrick's" ?? ..Rick]

And sometimes actual impact on the job does not have to be demonstrated
for the training to be effective. For example (following a Brinkerhoff
example), all pilots receive training in emergency situations and
manoeuvres. I don't know about anyone else, but I certainly hope that the
pilot on my next flight does not have to demonstrate the effectiveness of
this training on the job!

What do others think?

Burt Perrin
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Burt Perrin <Burt_Perrin@compuserve.com>

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