Evaluating my impact: preparing for Kirkpatrick certification

Ever since I started attending workplace learning related events, it has been clear there is an undercurrent in the industry of criticizing the Kirkpatrick model. There are the views it is too old, simplistic, outdated, etc.

Personally I try and avoid criticism for anything I am not in a position of authority on – for example I feel I can criticize politicians for lying, their interpersonal skills, etc. but not necessarily their skill at the practicalities of being an MP such as passing laws.

Whilst I have worked with different evaluation models I have opted to pursue Kirkpatrick certification (as mentioned previously) to really try and crack evaluation/impact for my team and my wider organization. Thus, I will be in a more authoritative position to consider the pros and cons of Kirkpatrick.

Unlike some L&D teams, I would say we are closely aligned to business objectives and do a reasonable job of challenging top down and bottom up requests for programs, performance improvement, etc. However, evaluating success in tackling the issues is tricky and, as I inherited an L&D policy specifically saying we will use the Kirkpatrick levels to evaluate, then we are following that route.

I’m hoping the two-day program will empower me around evaluation in general but specifically being able to make use of the appropriate models. Or it may well make me a more vocal opponent.

The pre-work includes some nice detail behind the levels. Indeed there are references to deal with some of those regular topics of criticism. However, whilst ‘the 70’ is referenced as covered in the ‘new’ Kirkpatrick model, the template forms still reference evaluation of “training”.

A particular challenge for myself in the past has been evaluating solutions’ real impact on the bottom line; in a world of multiple factors (KSME) how can we (L&D or a wider project team) claim an impact. Indeed I raised this at the Kineo/Boost evaluation session. The pre-read refers to using ‘indicators’ and this will be particularly interesting.

Expect a blog later in the month once I’ve been on and reflected upon the certification program!