Jun 08, 2017 | 2 Minute Read

A framework for evaluating training solutions to your toughest HR challenges


When evaluating tools and solutions to your toughest HR challenges, it is critical to ensure that you are going to employ a training tool that is personal, pervasive, and permanent for the individuals in your organization. We’ve found that end users find it is difficult to think through the questions you need to ask.

Yes, there is a solve.

Donald Kirkpatrick, Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin and past president of the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), published a Four-Level Training Evaluation Model in 1959, then updated it two more times in 1975 and 1994. 

Kirpatrick’s levels of training evaluation include:

  • Reaction. Consider how positively trainees react to the training.
  • Learning. Measures how much a trainee’s knowledge increased after the training.
  • Behavior. Examines how the trainees apply the knowledge in the workplace.
  • Results. Evaluates the impact to the business.

Using this model, we’ve found that it is best to begin with the end in mind and flip Kirkpatrick’s model to evaluate training solutions. Here are some questions to get your creative question-asking juices flowing:


  • How does your solution and tools correlate to other well-known training programs that measure similar factors?
  • Can you share case studies that show business impact?
  • Is your solution legally defensible for its intended purpose?
  • Are you using scientifically sound tools within your practice?
  • What process is used to systematically evaluate the performance of the training program?
  • Which companies are you affiliated with? Are you a distributor?
  • Who will be there to support implementation?
  • What results are your current clients realizing from using your solutions?
  • What is the cost structure for using your solution?
  • Is there a way for us to bring the learning in house and be certified through you?
  • Can the information you provide be integrated into our LMS?


  • With what frequency would we have to be trained so that it causes a behavior change in the organization. What is involved with that?
  • What does your solution predict?
  • Do you have research to support your claims?
  • What are appropriate uses of your solution?
  • What are inappropriate uses of your solution?
  • How are your clients currently using your solution?
  • What group or comparison information is available through your solution?


  • What is your solution designed to do?
  • What does your solution measure?
  • What type of sub-training or coaching is recommended to support your program?
  • How are the results interpreted?
  • What is included in your program?
  • What is the scope of required or available training?
  • What type of individual feedback or data is provided to the trainee?
  • What “off-the-shelf” materials are available to assist with implementation in our business?


  • Which population should we target first, second, and third?
  • Do you have this in multiple languages?
  • What reading/comprehension level is your program?
  • What do we need to measure at the individual level?
  • What do we need to measure at the team level?
  • How do you ensure privacy and appropriate use of your solution offering?

The next time you’re evaluating a training solution, consider these key questions to know if the training solution is perfect for your business.

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Candice Frazer

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