Magazine article Talent Development

50 Years of Evaluation

Magazine article Talent Development

50 Years of Evaluation

Article excerpt

This year, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Kirkpatrick Four Levels. In the early 1950s, I was teaching supervisory development courses at the University of Wisconsin Management Institute. I decided to pursue a PhD and chose to write a practical dissertation on evaluating the programs that I was teaching.

The first objective of my dissertation research was to measure the reaction (Level 1) of the supervisors who attended the training programs. It was important that they went back to their jobs with positive comments about the program--or we would be out of business. Managers also attended our program to evaluate whether to send their supervisors.

The second objective of the dissertation was to measure the learning (Level 2) that took place during the program. We needed to know whether we were successful in increasing knowledge, improving skills, and changing attitudes--the three objectives of our programs. We used pre- and post-tests to measure improvement in knowledge and change in attitudes, and other tools to evaluate an increase in skills.

I chose these objectives because they were the two main evaluations used at the time. I completed the requirements and received my PhD in 1954. As I applied my own research to my teaching, however, I felt that something was missing. During the next five years, I conducted more research and extended my reach to changes in behavior and results (Levels 3 and 4).

In 1959, I was asked to write an article on my research for the Journal of the American Society of Training Directors. …

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