Four Courses of Kirkpatricks (Part 2)

The other week we started our taste buds on a tour of four courses of evaluation. After an overview of Kirkpatricks we discussed Level 1: Appetizers or better known as Reaction. This week we move to the next course or Level 2.

Level 2: Insalate (Salad)
For this course we look at the learner and the learning they retain. What has the training allowed them to acquire that they did not know previously? Learner Assessments are the most common form of evaluation at this level. Much like a salad is like a pre-dinner expectation – we know that salad is usually served prior to our main course – so can we also pre-test our learners for their prior knowledge. We can then provide a post-test to examine the difference in scores to determine the level of retention.

Pre-testing is not always a necessity. Perhaps there are certain topics that an individual will be trained on that an expectation of prior knowledge is not warranted. For example, new hire training may just assume that all learners are unfamiliar with the topic. However, an annual compliance training program may be curious to how much a participant recalled from last year and what they acquired as new knowledge this year post-annual training.

The post-test has more than just the capability to inform on how well someone did, it can also clue in the developers of training to whether or not there are problems within the training. For example, many learners scored low on a particular topic. The instructional designer can then go back and look and determine if the test questions or assessment were the issue or they can also look at the learning objectives the test questions or assessment were to cover and evaluate the content and its information to see if there is an issue there. It could be that the test items were not designed well enough to test to the content or that the content and its instructional strategies/activities needed refinement to support the learning objectives better. Or it could have been a combination of both.

Level 2 is probably the most common Level of Evaluation that many perform. It is more than likely the most familiar of all Levels. But what if we want to know more than what the learner retained today at point of testing? What if we are curious about their retention and application of that knowledge? Where can we go from here?

We move to Level 3: The Main Dish next week to examine Behavior.

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