On May 9, 2014, Dr. Don Kirkpatrick died at the age of 90. His approach (called a model) to evaluation was developed in 1954 and has served the training and development arena well since then; it continues to do so.
For those of you who are not familiar with the Kirkpatrick model, here is a primer, albeit short. (There are extensive training programs for getting certified in this model, if you want to know more.)
Don Kirkpatrick, Ph. D. developed the Kirkpatrick model when he was a doctoral student; it was the subject of his dissertation which was defended in 1954. There are four levels (they are color coded on the Kirkpatrick website) and I quote:
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
Sounds simple, right. (Reminiscent of a logic model’s short, medium, and long term outcomes). He was the first to admit that it is difficult to get to level four (no world peace for this guy, unfortunately). We all know that behavior can be observed and reported, although self-report is fraught with problems (self-selection, desired response, other cognitive bias, etc.).
In 2010, Dr. Jim Kirkpatrick revised the Kirkpatrick model and called it New World Kirkpatrick Model. He added engagement and relevance to level one; confidence and commitment to level two; required drivers to level three; and leading indicators to level four. He gives examples of these additions. The revised level four may be closer to world peace.
When I hear that a leader in the field is no longer with us, I am sad. Although I had not met Don Kirkpatrick, the contribution he made to the field of evaluation in training and development is significant. Fortunately, his family carries on his work.