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The measurement and evaluation process is a logical, systematic process that may consist of up to five levels depending on the characteristics of the training program and the customer's willingness to invest the necessary resources. Although the process is implemented after the training has been delivered, its roots are at the start of the training project - in particular, when assessing the customer's training needs, setting learning objectives, evaluating the audience characteristics, and so forth.

The first four levels of evaluation, created by Kirkpatrick , are:

Level 1- Reaction: Were the participants pleased with the course?
Measures the participants' reaction to the program. This evaluation is usually accomplished through a generic, end-of-program questionnaire covering such topics as content, instructor, logistics, and materials. However, it does not ensure that the participants have learned new skills and knowledge.

Level 2 - Learning: What did the participants learn in the course?
Measures the skills, knowledge, and/or attitude that the participants are expected to have learned. It uses tests, skill practices, role plays, simulations, and other assessment tools. You will need to refer to the learning objectives established at the outset of the project.

Level 3 - Behavior: Did the participants change their behavior based on what was learned?
Measures how much the transfer of knowledge, skills, and attitudes occurs once participants return to their jobs. The assessment at this level is more difficult and time-consuming than Levels 1 and 2 because the behavior change may take time, and there may be obstacles preventing it from happening. The use of control groups and the survey and/or interview of participants, their supervisors, and others may be necessary.

Level 4 - Results: To what extent did the change in behavior positively affect the organization?
Measures the business impact of the program, e.g., output, quality, costs, time, and customer satisfaction. A Level 4 evaluation can be a challenge. The course taught has results in mind based on the learning objectives, but how can the customer gather tangible evidence that the training program is paying off? Similar to Level 3, there are guidelines to be followed, such as the use of a control group and sufficient time for results to be achieved.

The final level of evaluation - Return on Investment - was proposed by Jack Phillips . It requires the tabulation of program costs, which is then compared to the monetary benefits from the program.

In summary, not all training programs should be subjected to evaluation all the way to Level 4 (Kirkpatrick's methodology) or Level 5 (Phillips's ROI). The most likely candidate programs for Level 4 or 5 are:

Are expensive, strategic, operationally focused, or highly visible.
Involve large target audiences.
Have management attention in terms of accountability.

On the other hand, the time and effort for evaluation through Level 4 or 5 is not warranted for:

Inexpensive programs.
Government mandated programs (e.g., compliance).
Legally required initiatives.
Brief programs of small scope.
Specific operational job-related projects.

The illustration below provides an overview of the five levels of evaluation:


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