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Level Up Learning: How the Kirkpatrick Model Helps Businesses Deliver Effective Training

19 March 2024

1 Min Read

workplace learning

Businesses often point to assessment scores and completion rates as measures of success for workplace learning, but L&D experts know this doesn’t tell the whole story. While it’s essential to know such details, they’re surface-level data points that don’t prove that employees learned anything.

Without the right strategies, learning gets disconnected from development, and L&D professionals get bogged down by data that doesn’t mean much. They also get trapped in a cycle of creating disjointed training programs that keep employees busy but don’t result in meaningful changes that positively impact the business. Worst of all, there’s no real way for L&D professionals to show the value of their efforts and, more importantly, all the employees who invest hours upon hours into training.

What is Effective Learning?

When learning is truly effective, it influences behavioral change, which translates into measurable results like more efficient operations, better workplace safety, increased sales, or improved customer service.

Effective training checks the boxes and equips employees with the skills and knowledge they need to perform better on the job. To know if training programs are effective, L&D leaders need to see how employees apply their skills and knowledge to the job and how it impacts the business—but doing so isn’t easy.

The Kirkpatrick Model is a time-tested method leveraged by businesses and organizations across all sectors to evaluate the effectiveness of workplace learning programs. It’s a four-tier system that helps companies determine if training is working and design programs that achieve specific organizational goals. Let’s explore each level and how it relates to learning and development.

The Kirkpatrick Model Explained

Level One: Employee Reaction

The first level in the Kirkpatrick Model focuses on learner engagement. How do learners feel about the training? Do they think it’s relevant and helpful to their jobs? What’s in it for them?

Level Two: Learning

Level two measures the degree to which employees acquire the intended knowledge and skills based on their participation in training. In other words, this level encompasses the metrics typically associated with learning success (such as completion rates and assessment scores) and often becomes the primary focus of business leaders and L&D professionals.

Level Three: Behavior

Here, the Kirkpatrick Model expands to measure how employees apply what they learned in training when they are back on the job. It considers whether or not the training results in behavioral changes like faster and more efficient operations, increased production, or improved accuracy.

Level Four: Results

The fourth level of the Kirkpatrick Model considers the degree to which training impacts specific outcomes. It requires business leaders and L&D professionals to pre-determine desired training goals, such as more sales or faster deployment of goods and services.

How to Apply the Kirkpatrick Model to Learning and Development

The Kirkpatrick Model presents a helpful framework, but correctly applying it requires buy-in from key organizational stakeholders. L&D professionals must work with business leaders on critical teams to understand why employees need training and what skills or knowledge they should attain by participating in a learning program.

From there, L&D leaders can work backward to design training programs that resonate with learners and equip them with knowledge and skills they can demonstrate in their roles. Predefining any training program’s goals gives L&D leaders something to measure against, so once training is complete, they have a reference point to determine what works and what doesn’t.

This approach builds upon the first two levels of the Kirkpatrick Model by making it possible to consider the third and fourth levels. Planning can go a long way in helping learners feel their time is well spent and giving L&D professionals a straightforward way to evaluate and demonstrate the overall business value of learning.

The Role of Technology in Measuring the Business Impact of Learning

Many organizations rely on the tools within their learning platform to handle their reporting and analytics. This is perfectly fine as long as the tool is robust and the organization has people who can leverage its full potential. Here are five things to look out for when exploring a platform:

  1. Learning Analytics
  2. Reporting
  3. Goal Setting and Planning
  4. Performance Analytics Dashboards
  5. Data and Predictive Analytics

To learn more about the value of connecting learning and development and how it helps businesses measure business impact, download our free guide by clicking below.

Download the L&D Connection Guide from Schoox

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