Who's Afraid of Level 4 Evaluation? A Practical Approach

By Shelton, Sandra; Alliger, George | Training & Development, June 1993 | Go to article overview

Who's Afraid of Level 4 Evaluation? A Practical Approach


Shelton, Sandra, Alliger, George, Training & Development


There is no escaping it: Increasingly, trainers are having to account for training dollars spent. And they are having to do it in terms of business results and return on investment.

In 1959, Donald Kirkpatrick proposed a four-level model of criteria for evaluating training: learner reactions, learning, job application, and observable business results. But many organizations still don't evaluate training. Others base their evaluations only on trainees' reactions. Now, more sophisticated assessments are called for, including Kirkpatrick's Level 4 evaluation - observable business results.

A 1988 poll of about 300 leading organizations, conducted by the American Society for Training and Development, found that only 20 percent evaluated training in terms of its economic effect on the organization. In fact, many training professionals seem to think that measuring training results in terms of dollars and cents takes too much time, is too costly, and is susceptible to extraneous factors that may affect results.

A 1990 IBM study of six large corporations (including IBM itself) and several training consultants, including Kirkpatrick, found that even organizations that say they examine the economic impact of training don't do so directly; they rely on people's opinions. Asking trainees whether training has improved their performance or their organization's performance isn't the same as assessing performance directly.

Why avoid Level 4 evaluations?

One reason organizations may shy away from Level 4 evaluations is that collecting and interpreting the data is more difficult and time-consuming than surveying trainees. But a Level 4 evaluation, which should include a cost-benefit analysis, can provide data that are more thorough and more credible than information collected by surveying trainees.

In some instances, conducting a Level 4 evaluation can be fairly easy. When data are routinely collected - such as the number of hours worked, units produced, and defects - a Level 4 evaluation may simply be a matter of obtaining, organizing, and analyzing already available data.

But sometimes organizations try to conduct Level 4 evaluations when they're not appropriate. A Level 4 assessment may not be the proper evaluation method for training that doesn't affect observable outcomes - for example, training that aims to change only attitudes. Such training isn't likely to show changes in organizational output. If a Level 4 evaluation is used in such a case, its inappropriateness is sure to reinforce any negative opinions about the Level 4 approach.

Another example of the inappropriate use of Level 4 evaluations is that of a training manager who promises to conduct a Level 4 study of a particular program and then discovers that objective data aren't available or accurate. Simply put, the manager can't finish what he or she started, and the Level 4 approach again looks impractical. Last, some people are intimidated by Level 4 evaluations. Level 4 studies often are expensive; if they don't produce positive results, trainers believe they'll be held accountable to management. In other words, if the objective data show that the training failed, the trainer can't avoid culpability.

For example, if a training program aims to increase the number of units produced and reduce the number of defects, it's difficult for a trainer to deny the conclusion of a pretraining/post-training assessment that shows the goals weren't attained. If the data show that more units weren't produced, with fewer defects, then the inescapable interpretation is that the training failed. The credibility associated with objective data is one of the reasons that Level 4 studies should be carefully planned.

Clearly, there are situations in which Level 4 evaluations aren't the appropriate assessments to use. But if you are considering using a Level 4 evaluation, here are some guidelines. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Who's Afraid of Level 4 Evaluation? A Practical Approach
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.