Can you believe that my four articles on reaction, learning, behavior, and results were printed in T+D more than 50 years ago?
Immediately, they began to get the attention of workplace trainers. Some called them the "four levels" while others named them the "Kirkpatrick Model" for evaluating training programs.
They were based on my 1954 PhD dissertation at the University of Wisconsin - research I had done between 1954 and 1959. In 1959, Bob Craig, then editor of T+D, asked if I would write an article on evaluation. I told him I could write a series of four articles. He hesitated, because no series had ever appeared in the publication, but he finally agreed.
As I think back on Craig's decision to run the series, I wonder if they would ever have been published for the world to see had he chosen not to. I had no thoughts then of writing an article or series of articles, but soon after the articles were published, trainers began to write articles on each of the levels.
I recently asked LinkedIn participants whether the four levels are out of date. I received more than 40 responses from people strongly stating, "no."
The problem, the majority of them commented, is that most workplace training professionals are effective in evaluating Level 1, reaction, and Level 2, learning, but not Level 3, behavior or Level 4, results. This is because they don't think it is necessary or don't know how to do it.
It is necessary. In today's tough business climate, it is imperative that learning professionals link learning initiatives to business goals and prove their value in this new workplace.
I continue to be invited to ASTD chapters and national conferences to present courses on the four levels. At the 2010 ASTD International Conference & Exposition in Chicago, I presented two sessions on the four levels, which were well attended. I guess that proves that the four levels are alive and well.