Flipping Kirkpatrick in Learning Program Design

I’ve been developing learning programs for a while now and one thing I’ve learned is you have to incorporate your evaluation into the design. I use the Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation (ADDIE) method with a bit of agile added for flavor (see what I did there), but that’s just my preference. You may use Successive Approximation Model (SAM) or go strictly agile, but whatever process you use the program needs to be evaluated.

That’s where Kirkpatrick comes into play. Level 1 smile sheets and Level 2 tests or quizzes are a breeze. It’s levels three and four that are tough to measure, but if you design the program with those evaluations in mind things get easier.

So how do I do that? Let’s take a look at Kirkpatrick’s evaluation model.

Kirkpatrick Model

Now, let’s flip it

When creating a learning program with a client I start with Level 4: Results. What outcomes are we trying to achieve? Do we need to increase revenue and profit? Do we need faster, more efficient production? Do projects need to be more collaborative and completed on time? Armed with knowing what we are trying to achieve and we can begin to design a program.

That brings me to questions about Level 3: Behavior. What behaviors need to change to achieve this outcome? The answer gives me insight into what behaviors to model or practice in the learning program. Level 3 behaviors drive Level 4 results. Measuring behavioral change may take some follow-up, but the changes are observable so it can be done.

Moving down the list we are at Level 2: Learning, or what I like to call knowledge. What knowledge is needed to change the behavior? My client’s answer to that question helps drive the content I provide in the learning program. Knowledge is easily assessed during the program and potentially later to check for retention.

Finally, we’re at Level 1: Reaction or Engagement. How do I get the participants engaged to acquire the knowledge to change the behavior that drives the results? I’m constantly asking myself this question as I design the program and you should too.

As I’ve said, I’ve been using this process for a while and it has really helped me create and deliver better programs—ones that give my clients and me the ability to measure results which feed into creating better programs in the future.

Have an interesting insight into creating learning programs? Tell me about it in the comments.

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