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The four level model of evaluation Essay

Evaluation refers to the systematic assessment of an objects merit or worth. It is vital for any organization to carry out an evaluation of its workers with the main aim being to get feedback necessary for the overall improvement of the firm. Training of employees as well as the management team is vital in ensuring that the organizations perform effectively and efficiently. Evaluating the training programs offered to these workers is essential in ensuring that they are effective and consistent with long term objectives of the firm (Trochim, 2006).

To evaluate or assess the training program, a four level model is used which was developed by Donald Kirkpatrick in 1959. The four level model of evaluation Level one of Donald’s model is referred to as reaction. This involves evaluating or assessing the learners’ reaction to the training being offered to them. Attitude questionnaires are usually used in to measure the reaction. During this level, a learner’s perception about the training is assessed.

This level of evaluation seeks to answer questions like whether the trainees enjoyed the training and whether the information gained was relevant to their field of work. All programs should be assessed beginning with this level so as to devise means of improving the training program. Reaction obtained during this level is vital in determining the learning process of a learner. However, it should be noted that positive reactions are not always a prerequisite of learning although negative ones reduces the possibility of effective learning (Winfrey, 1999).

Level two of the model involves evaluating the learning process. In learning evaluation, the evaluator attempts to measure the extent the learners have advanced in terms of gaining more skills to perform a task, knowledge and also whether their attitude has changed towards performance of certain tasks. In assessing the learning achieved through the training program, tests are conducted before and after the training. This level is however more difficult than the first level.

Measurement using for this level may include formal assessment, informal assessment, self assessment and also team assessment both before and after the training. Use of pretest and post test is vital in determining learning that is achieved during the training process (Croes, n. d). Third level of evaluation is referred to as transfer. In this level, behavior transfer occurring as a result of the training in a learner is measured. The main objective of this evaluation is to assess whether the acquired skills, attitude or knowledge are employed in the day to days activities by the learner.

This stage is the most crucial in assessing the effectiveness of a training program. Measuring of transfer is a difficult task especially because it is almost impossible to accurately predict when a learner may change his behavior. It thus requires prior planning on the basis of time of evaluation, the frequency of evaluation and the mode to be used foe the evaluation (Bob, 2004). The last level of evaluation under this model involves results evaluation. Results evaluation assesses the training on the basis of results obtained by an organization or a business.

This level is used in measuring the overall success of the training program in terms of increased productivity, decreased costs, quality improvement, and increase in the level of sales, accident frequency reduction and improved profitability. This forms the basis or the reason behind the training process. Assessing the financial returns as a product of the training programs is difficult since it is hard to directly link improved overall performance to the training offered (Winfrey, 1999).

Training program evaluation is vital to any organization as it enables the management to know the areas to improve the program to ensure the desired results are achieved. The reaction level for example, enables the trainer to assess the overall perception of his or her trainees. This evaluation also helps in deducting whether the training program is helpful or not. Program evaluation is also vital in that it enables for earlier corrective measures to be taken regarding the training program. It is also vital in that if effectively managed, it leads to cost and effectiveness benefits.

However, most organizations are against program evaluation citing the reasons that it is costly and time consuming. Also, different trainees may react differently to the same training program making it difficult to implement the training. For such reasons, program evaluation is always dismissed by the management. Also, conducting a training program evaluation does not guarantee that the desired results will be achieved. Failure to accurately link the results obtained during the training program also makes training program undesirable (Bob, 2004).

The main objective of training employees is to reduce costs and to improve effectiveness in a firm with an aim of increasing the firm’s productivity and profitability. Training programs should thus be evaluated in terms of cost benefits and cost effectiveness. There are different methods which can be used in assessing this which include carrying out a cost-benefit analysis. This analysis seeks to analyze the economic costs involved in the training costs in terms of economic benefits expected from the training program. A benefit to costs ratio approach is applied in cost benefit analysis.

This involves dividing the cost of benefits in monetary terms by the total cost used in obtaining the benefits. The higher the ratio, the more beneficial the training program and vice versa. Another method is the net return rate approach which involves subtracting the total costs from the total benefits. The benefits should exceed the costs for the training to have cost benefits (Sewell, & Marczak, n. d). Cost effectiveness analysis is conducted to measure the overall effectiveness obtained by a training program. This method assumes that there are desired outcomes which are expected after the training program has been implemented.

This method takes a comparative approach unlike the cost benefit analysis evaluates one program at a time. Under the cost effective analysis, a program is compared to other programs which are takes as the scale used to measure outcomes. A program is termed to be more cost effective if the unit costs are less below that of other programs. If a training program leads to increased unit costs, them the program is said to have been cost ineffective (Sewell, & Marczak, n. d). Cost benefits also referred to as cost effectiveness is used to measure or to assess the efficiency of any program in an organization.

it is important for any manager to compare the costs and the benefits accruing to the organization. During cost benefits or cost effectiveness analysis, costs are compared with the expected benefits. The higher the benefits are above the costs, the more effective the program. A program is termed as being “worth it” if the management finds it desirable in terms of efficiency and effectiveness (Sewell, & Marczak, n. d). Conclusion Training of employees is vital for any organization to be productive and for the long term survival of the firm.

Any training program implemented by an enterprise should be relevant to its objectives. Evaluation of training program is thus vital in ensuring that a firm remains focused on its overall goals. Cost analysis should also be performed to ensure that the program does not cost the firm more than the benefits accruing both in the short term and in the long term.


Bob, J. (2004): Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels of Evaluation. Retrieved on 5th February 2009 from, http://www. isixsigma. com/dictionary/Kirkpatricks_4_Levels_of_Evaluation-626. htm. Croes, S. (n.d):

Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels of Evaluation. Retrieved on 5th February 2009 from, http://www. masterminds-ink. com/Evaluation. pdf. Sewell, M. & Marczak, M. (n. d): Using Cost Analysis in Evaluation. Retrieved on 5th February 2009 from, http://ag. arizona. edu/fcs/cyfernet/cyfar/Costben2. htm. Trochim, W. M. K. (2006): Introduction to Evaluation. Retrieved on 5th February 2009 from, http://www. socialresearchmethods. net/kb/intreval. htm. Winfrey, E. C. (1999): Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels of Evaluation. Retrieved on 5th February 2009 from, http://coe. sdsu. edu/eet/Articles/k4levels/

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