The Importance of Measuring Training Results

It is important to measure the effectiveness of training, yet many organizations don’t take the initiative to do so. If you don’t measure the impact, you won’t know whether your training is worth your investment. According to a study carried out by the Association for Talent Development, or ATD (formerly the American Society of Training & Development, or ASTD), only 35 percent of talent development professionals evaluate the business impact of their learning programs. The study noted that measuring the impact of training can encourage better work from employees and help you prioritize and allocate resources.

Whether you use classroom training, e-learning, or a combination of both, measuring results will help you discover how effective the training is. It also can help you improve your training methods. Studies show that today’s learners expect the creativity and flexibility that e-learning provides.

Measure Your ROI

The most obvious way to measure your training program is to assess the return on investment. This involves simply comparing the cost of the training with returns from sales or other measures to evaluate the monetary value your organization gains.

Dr. Kirkpatrick’s Four-Step Method for Evaluating Training

Decades ago, Donald Kirkpatrick, Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin and a past president of ATD, developed a four-level process for evaluating training, and it is still useful today. He first published his Four-Level Training Evaluation Model in 1959, in the US Training and Development Journal. He updated the model in 1975 and again in 1994, when he published his best-known work, Evaluating Training Programs.

Here is a brief overview of the four levels he defined:

Level 1: Reaction – Through an analysis of participants’ reactions to the training, you can determine the level of satisfaction they derived and the relevance of the materials used.

Level 2: Learning – In measuring learning, the focus is on establishing the degree of skills, attitudes, and knowledge that participants have received during a training session.

Level 3: Behavior – It’s impossible to predict how any trainee is going to transfer the knowledge gained during the training session to the actual workplace. For this reason, some measurements are initiated several weeks after the training.

Level 4: Results – At level 4, the focus is to learn how the training you have presented impacts your business by measuring factors like return on investment, increased productivity, and a lower rate of employee turnover.

Using these qualitative and quantitative measures of your training program’s value will guide your decisions about future training. Measuring training results will keep you from wasting time, money, and effort on training that isn’t moving your company or firm forward.