Section 9.4: Evaluation of Training Programs

Eisha Bhangu; Jovenvir Birk; and Xinyu Cao

Evaluations of training programs should:

  • Determine issues within the program
  • Highlight missing information (gaps)
  • Collect feedback on the existing evaluation process
  • Identify the outcomes of the program
  • Focus on reaction, learning, behaviour and results
  • Measure the impact on achieving organizational goals
  • Assess whether the training encourages employees to participate and work in teams
  • Determine whether it is interactive

Let’s take a look at this in detail.

Determine issues within the program

It is key to determine the current issues within a training program by performing an in-depth analysis and understanding the root causes of these issues. Examining what areas of trainee retention and transfer are most affected is crucial. HR professionals should be able to:

  1. Conduct an analysis
  2. Assess areas of inadequacy in the program
  3. Determine the root cause of an issue
  4. Identify the areas most impacted by the issue

The training program should be assessed to determine whether there are gaps or missing information within the following elements of the Instructional Systems Design model:

  1. Needs Analysis
  2. Training Design and Delivery
  3. Training Evaluation

Gaps that may exist in training programs include:

  • Gaps in needs analysis in relation to organizational, task, and person analysis.
  • Gaps in training design and delivery relating to training objectives, content, methods, and principles.
  • Gaps in training evaluation relating to evaluation criteria and design.

(Affleck, 2021)

Collect feedback on the existing evaluation process.

Interviews, questionnaires, and surveys can be collected from the trainees to determine the level of effectiveness of the training program. HR professionals should be able to combine a variety of methods to gain insights on how to improve the training program, meet organizational needs and derive long-term benefits.

What are the outcomes of the program?

The training program evaluation can be linked to individual employee performance and productivity and how they affect organizational success. Key indicators for determining whether the training program is efficient and effective are individual and organizational benefits. There are two types of benefits associated with incorporating efficient and effective training programs:

  1. Individual benefits (performance, productivity, morale, satisfaction)
  2. Organizational benefits (profits, financial metrics, performance, productivity)

Focus on reaction, learning, behaviour and results 

The Kirkpatrick evaluation model should be implemented by HR professionals and trainers during the training program. This model is the gold standard for evaluating training programs based on the following five levels:

Level 1: Reaction

Observe the trainee’s reaction, the learner’s satisfaction and the level of engagement during the training. This can be measured through observation, surveys, interviews, and learner feedback.

Level 2: Learning

Observe if new learning and intended knowledge, skills, and abilities have been acquired from the training. Principles, facts, techniques, processes, and procedures gained through training should be observed. This can be measured through performance, testing or work samples during training.

Level 3: Behaviour

Signs indicating the successful transfer of learning should be looked for. Observe to what extent trainees can showcase the transfer of learning into the workplace. Specifically, look for technical skills, motor skills, or behaviours acquired and determine the learners’ attitudes toward the training. These can be measured through tests, observations, ratings, work samples, surveys and interviews. This evaluation should take place after the training to observe changes in behaviour and performance in the workplace.

Level 4: Results

Watch for targeted outcomes resulting from the training. Determine to what extent targeted outcomes were achieved from the training and its reinforcement. Evaluation should be geared towards improved productivity, employee and customer morale, and job satisfaction. This will be evaluated through observation and performance data.

Level 5: Return on Investment (Added Level)

Compare the cost of the training to the results. The organization and external environment and learning benefits and costs are evaluated. Some of the measurements used could include financial indicators, economic value indicators, or key HR metrics. (McPheat, 2022)

Does it focus on achieving organizational goals?

Organizational goals refer to the organization’s mission and vision, targeted performance and productivity levels and key targets in financial metrics. In other words, these organizational goals are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) goals that need to be met for an effective training program evaluation.

Does the training encourage employees to participate and work in teams?

The training program will encourage teamwork by enabling employees to participate and work together. The employees will learn from each other and there will be a common understanding to ensure the transfer of training takes place in the workplace. This will align with the organization’s goals and the outcomes of effective training program evaluations.

Is it interactive?

The training program should be designed to be interactive and involve the engagement and collaboration of employees. Employees should be excited to learn and develop and the program should allow them to participate. The interactive component will allow recognition of the VARK (Visual, Auditory, Reading/Writing, Kinesthetic) learning styles.

According to research by Grensing-Pophal (2019), HR professionals need to be aware of four steps and considerations. For instance, participants in the training program should be aware of the knowledge, skills, and abilities required for the training and the workplace. Furthermore, learning outcomes should correlate specifically to the job requirements. This is key when evaluating the training program because there must be a successful transfer of training. If the link between the learning outcomes and job requirements is broken, then job performance will be negatively impacted, and the entire training program will be rendered useless. Furthermore, the assessment of performance before and after the training is completed by employees is important to determine if the learning outcomes have been met. Finally, it is significant and worthwhile to determine the training effectiveness given a specified period of time (Grensing-Pophal, 2019).

Andriotis (2019) mentions the following training program evaluations:

The most commonly used method for evaluating training programs in the HR industry is Kirkpatrick’s Four-Level Training Evaluation Model. Deller (2019) reiterates that Kirkpatrick’s Four-Level Training Evaluation Model is among the best, if not the best, method to use evaluate training effectiveness.


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People Learning and Development Copyright © by Eisha Bhangu; Jovenvir Birk; and Xinyu Cao is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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