Evaluating Training Programs: Part 3 of 3

Measuring Training Programs – Beyond the 4 Levels

In our two previous blogs we've briefly covered two of the four levels of evaluating training from Donald Kirkpatrick's book Evaluating Training Programs: The Four Levels. Kirkpatrick's Level 1, surveys trainees to get their evaluations of the training sessions (reaction), and Level 2, pre- and post-training assessments directly measure what the trainees gained from the training (learning). Now, we'll look at Kirkpatrick's Level 3 (behavior) and Level 4 (results) metrics which are much more resource intensive than Level 1 and Level 2.

Level 3 (Behavior)

A good way to think about the Level 3 measure is to ask the question, “What do I want the trainee to do as a result of the training?” Unlike Level 2 which is a test of what the trainee learned, Level 3 requires some form of observation on the job to determine how the training is put into practice. A common example in retail training is the use of professional shoppers who observe the practices of salespeople after training to determine if they are using the practices that they were taught.

Level 4 (Results)

Level 4 metrics answer the direct question, “What tangible outcomes have occured as a result of the training?” For example, the chart below tracks sales increases after training:

sales chart

Though increased sales are the desired end result of the training, direct Level 4 measures such as this are rarely used. Executives rightly assume that many other factors, not just sales training, are contributors to a sales increase. Discounting the contribution sales training might have made to improving sales numbers, managers often retreat to their explanation (excuse) that the value of sales training is something that just can't be measured.

Calculating a Training Return on Investment (ROI)

A better approach would be to utilize available strategies that isolate the effect of training from other factors. Jack Philips and Ron Drew Stone name ten of them in their book How to Measure Training Results. They include the use of control goups, trend line analysis, and forecasting tools as well as a variety of estimating methods. The point is that there are sound quantitative methods of getting a handle on the contribution of a training program excluding other factors. Philips and Stone then convert the data into monetary values to calculate a Return on Investment.

ROI (%) = (Net Benefits/Costs) X 100

Considering the cost of training programs, it's a good idea to dedicate some of your training budget to implementing a sound measurement system that calculates the value of a training program to the firm.

Art Johnson
Johnson Enterprises

Social Media, Training, and Consulting



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