The most popular and influential framework for training evaluation is articulated by Kirkpatrick.

Kirkpatrick argues that training efforts can be evaluated accord- ing to four criteria: reaction, learning, behavior, and results.

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1. Reaction (Level 1) Did the trainees like the program and feel it was valu- able? At this level, the focus is on the trainees’ perceptions about a program and its effectiveness. This is useful information. Positive reactions to a train- ing program may make it easier to encourage employees to attend future programs. But if trainees did not like the program or think they didn’t learn anything (even if they did), they may discourage others from attending and be reluctant to use the skills or knowledge obtained in the program. The main limitation of evaluating HRD programs at the reaction level is that this information cannot indicate whether the program met its objectives beyond ensuring participant satisfaction.

2. Learning (Level 2) Did the trainees learn what the HRD objectives said they should learn? This is an important criterion that an effective HRD

A classification scheme that specifies three categories of learning outcomes (cognitive, skill-based, affective) suggested by the literature and proposes evaluation measures appropriate for each category of outcomes program should satisfy. Measuring whether someone has learned something in training may involve a quiz or test—clearly a different method from asses- sing the participants’ reaction to the program.

3. Behavior (Level 3) Does the trainee use what was learned in training back on the job? This relates back to our discussion of training transfer in Chapter 3. This is also a critical measure of training success. We all know coworkers who have learned how to do something but choose not to. If learning does not transfer to the job, the training effort cannot have an impact on employee or organizational effectiveness.20 Measuring whether training has transferred to the job requires observation of the trainee’s on-the-job behavior or viewing organizational records (e.g., reduced customer complaints, a reduction in scrap rate).

4. Results (Level 4) Has the training or HRD effort improved the organiza- tion’s effectiveness? Is the organization more efficient, more profitable, or bet- ter able to serve its clients or customers as a result of the training program? Meeting this criterion is considered the bottom line as far as most managers are concerned. It is also the most challenging level to assess, given that many things beyond employee performance can affect organizational performance. Typically at this level, economic and operating data (such as sales or waste) are collected and analyzed.

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