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Measurement of Training Impact

Written By Bushra Zaineb

Measurement of Training Impact

A Bersin & Associates report stated that, ‘There is an amazing lack of measurement going on’. Not surprising given the complexity of the task. However, even without a sophisticated system in place for measurement of results, there are ways to measure effectiveness of training programs.

Most training practitioners are familiar with the commonly used Kirkpatrick’s model of measurement of results, which serves as a tool for measuring the business value of training.

  • Level 1: Reaction – To what degree participants react favorably to the training
  • Level 2: Learning – To what degree participants acquire the intended knowledge, skills, attitudes, confidence, and commitment based on their participation in a training event
  • Level 3: Behavior – To what degree participants apply what they learned during training when they are back on the job
  • Level 4: Results – To what degree targeted outcomes occur as a result of the training event and subsequent reinforcement

The key is to stop at level 2 of the model. This level measures success purely in terms of what learners learnt. We don’t need to go beyond this level to measure enhanced performance. We need to focus on Level 2.

To explain why I say that we need to focus on level 2, which is learning, let me explain, while training plays a critical role in enhancing performance of learners, to what extent can we attribute enhanced performance to training alone? In addition to training, there are many variables that can impact learner performance. By keeping the goals of training at the learning stage, whether it is in the context of classroom or eLearning, we can measure the effectiveness of training, with a high degree of accuracy.

Do you agree?

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  • Gordon Svoboda

    Bashra, I believe you are confusing education with training.

    Education wants to ensure that what was taught was remembered. For education, Level 2 is adequte.

    Training seeks to improve knowledge, understanding, and behavior outcomes. For trianing, Kirkpatrick’s thinking, revealing training as an investment and not an expense through ROI, and interest in showing performance changes require Level 3 and Level 4.

  • Jolanta Z

    I disagree with the opinion that the level 2 is the most important. The most important are the RESULTS (level 4) measured over 6-8 months after the end of training cycle. The results should link the impact on strategy or extract the weak areas that require immediate response. No matter what professional group is trained, the immediate superior should be consciously involved in the training.

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  • Carl Facciponte

    Choice #3 is sitting there pretty lonely….so I’ll take that one.

    The real answer is .. “It depends”. What kind of a course is it? If it’s focus is remembering data, then Level 2 is sufficient (give ‘em an exam and be done with it). If the people are to demonstrate a skill when they get back on the job, then we need more than just an exam. There must be an evaluation of their ability to apply on the job. (not to be confused with a lab evaluation where the student can demonstrate their skills on hardware or software while still in class. I classify this as an extension of Level 2.)

    With skills and knowledge verification taking place in the class (or lab), I would agree that Level 2 is a pretty good place to quit. An informal survey of the student and their supervisors 3-6 months after the class is probably good for a post-training evaluation (moving us to Level 3).

    Keep in mind that while Level 3 is a great way to do things, it can also be resource consuming since someone actually has to go out and perform an “in field” evaluation (hence the survey mentioned above). Many times if students can demonstrate skill in class (lab) most manageres will say “good enough”. Additionally there are environmental factors that prevent a student from fully utilizing their skills back at work (time pressures, resource limitations/differences, and cultural issues such as “well…that’s a fine way of doing it in training, but let me show you how WE REALLY do it HERE”.)

    I’ve done a couple of Level 4’s before. Should only be done when there is money to spend to review business records, inventories, waste volume, time improvements, etc. Level 4 generally asks “what is the impact on the entire business” of this training. The ones I’ve done simply verified what people already knew from Levels 1-3 evaluations.

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