Four Courses of Kirkpatricks (Part 3)

In the third part of our series in examining Kirkpatrick’s we move from looking at Level 2: Learning and Learner Retention to Level 3: The Main Dish or Behavior.

Level 3: The Main Dish (Behavior)
As we noted previously as we move through Kirkpatrick’s Four Courses (Levels) each time we go up we expand the complexity of what we examine. We also include more time and more specific instruments to gather the information we need to evaluate. Level 3’s idea of the main dish is relatable to the big “So what?” The inevitable question of whether or not our training did what it was to do beyond just proving the learner could master information during the training.

With behavior we look at transfer of knowledge to the job setting. Did the learner use the newly acquired knowledge for its intended purpose? Much like preparing a main dish it takes more time then putting together the salad. We must wait for a bit of time, whether one week, two weeks, a month, three months, etc. We want to loop back around after the learner has had begun using the skills.

Some evaluations are rigorous such as the 360 degree evaluation and others are more informal; using one-to-one evaluations. For example, a district manager performing a ride-along with a sales representative. Other methods could be examining the learners work from a productivity, quality, efficiency perspective – this is contingent upon what the training was aiming to change in the learner’s behavior. Not only do we want to look at change we want to look at it from a consistency standpoint. Perhaps the behavior degrades over a three month period instead of improving. Or maybe the behavior improves over a period of time. Again, the examined factors are based on the initial goal of what the training was to do.

One particular issue with Level 3 is that evaluation can become muddied by the subjectivity of the individual performing observations or assessments. If this individual incorporates their own biases into the assessment it skews the results. Finding methods of a quantitative nature could mitigate this, but numbers can also be manipulated to present particular pictures as well.

Level 3 takes time in planning and execution it is not something left to the last-minute or ad-hoc. It is something that should be considered at the beginning of the project and worked into the development of the training as a parallel process.

Do we have room for dessert? Who doesn’t want to evaluate whether or not they can have their cake and eat it too? Our final discussion will bring us to Level 4: Results.

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