Each week, I try to pick an interesting, useful or informative topic to write a blog about, but this week I thought – why not see what our readers have found interesting, and write something related to that.

After going through our past posts, I noticed that one of our more widely read blog posts was “Conducting a Training Needs Analysis: 3 Initial Steps”. So I thought this week, I would follow that up with some tips for Measuring Training Results with a focus on Kirkpatrick’s Four Stages of Evaluation.

Identifying what you will measure

When you’re trying to measure training results, you first need to determine what it is you need to evaluate. To determine that, you’ll want to refer to your training needs analysis and your ICE (remember that term??) Isolate the problem by identifying gaps in knowledge and skills, consult with the stakeholders to determine the impacts of those gaps, and evaluate your options and set up your training plan.

In other words, before setting up your training plan, you should identify the expectations of the employer or stakeholder who has tasked you with the training, as well as what their ideal future state would be after training is completed.

Setting up your training plan is another topic to be addressed in another blog, but for the purpose of this blog, let’s assume you’ve done your training needs analysis, established the goals of the stakeholders, carried out the training and now you need to measure the results of that training. Ideally, you should design your evaluation strategy before carrying out your training program so you can tailor your program alongside what type of evaluation you will be doing.

One of the main goals of training is to achieve some sort of change in behavior or attitude, therefore as a trainer you need to measure what changes took place, and if those changes stick with the employees.

Many trainers get so focused on the content that they have to deliver, and the process of training, that the evaluation gets left to the last minute and becomes rushed, and ineffective, but this is a very crucial step of training.

We recommend considering a four-stage evaluation model launched by Donald Kirkpatrick in the 1950s called “Kirkpatrick’s Evaluation Model”. The four levels are:

Reaction: How do the trainees react to the training? Do they participate and contribute? Are they able to apply the knowledge?

Learning: Consider the knowledge, skills and attitudes the trainees gain from the training, and if they have the confidence to transfer that to their job.

Behavior: Evaluate the degree to which the knowledge, skills and attitude are applied to the job, including processes and systems in place that reinforce, encourage and reward this.

Results: Measure the impact that the change in knowledge, skills and attitudes have had on the organization and the desired results to calculate the ROI on the training.

A thorough evaluation will include all four levels. While one and two are quite easy to evaluate, three and four can be much more difficult and costly, as measuring how much impact training has on a company can take months or even years to determine.

Methods of Evaluation:

So what are some different methods you can use to evaluate trainees?

Multiple choice or true/false questions are pretty straight forward and easy, but there are many other forms of evaluation that can be trickier.

Short answer and essay questions can be used to see if the trainee can demonstrate understanding of the training, but are trickier to grade. Try using a rubric such as this:

Question: Describe six essential elements of a training program.

Unacceptable (1) One or two elements are described, with no supporting information.
Needs Improvement (2) Fewer than six elements are described. Training needs analysis is not among the answers.
Good (3) Six elements are described. Each element meets the standards covered in training, including training needs analysis.
Excellent (4) Six or more elements are described and all are technically correct. Answers include reflecting individual needs of the trainees.

As you can see, this rubric allows a differentiation between a complete comprehension of the material versus a shallow grasp on what was taught.

Behavior evaluations can be effective as well. This is done by requiring the trainee to actually perform and demonstrate the skill to show they can apply the knowledge they’ve learned. This evaluation could take place at the end of training, or when they’re back on the job and required to perform the new skills.

For example, a restaurant cook has to learn a new dish for the menu – it would be reasonable to have the cook prepare samples and have the results evaluated by someone who knows how the dish should taste.

Then, there are more creative forms of evaluations, such as mailouts – for one, who doesn’t like getting mail?

For two, this technique is found to be very successful. What you do is have the trainees complete a postcard before they leave for the day, and have them write two or three goals that will draw on what they’ve learned in the training session. For example, they may write: “In the next 30 days, I will: genuinely compliment at least one of my co-workers every day, invite at least five people that I do not normally eat with to have lunch with me, and answer all questions from new staff cheerfully and professionally.”

Get the trainees to return the postcard to you, and mail it to them in the next 30 days (or whatever time frame you deem appropriate). If you want to take the extra step, you could provide feedback in the form of a tip sheet for the goals. Once the trainee receives the postcard, they can review and reflect on their progress toward their goals.

Beyond Evaluation:

Another step we consider important in the evaluation process is to evaluate the evaluation and the training. You could create a feedback form for the trainees to fill out to evaluate how confident they are in their ability to explain and perform the new knowledge and skills they have acquired during your training. If nothing else, it will help you readjust your program for the next training session.

Finally, it is often important to the stakeholders of the company you’re in, or that has hired you, that the training provides a Return on Investment (ROI), but like I said – this is much more difficult and costly to evaluate because it can take some time to show through. But here’s an example of how to do this in a customer service environment:

Say you were training customer service representatives to develop new skills and techniques to reduce the number of complaints. After the training, record live phone calls between the customer service representatives and customers, observing them using the techniques and solutions they learned in training, and offer additional coaching or tips to lead to even better outcomes. Then you can calculate if the amount of complaints lessens as time goes on.

This is just one of many examples that could have been used. Measuring the results of a training program can be difficult, and you want to be considerate of both your trainees, and the employer’s expectations, and your training results should be beneficial to both.

For more information about how to Measure the Results of your Training, you can check out and sample our full course titled “Measuring Training Results” here: http://www.velsoft.com/products/train-the-trainer/measuring-training-results