Assessing Effectiveness of E-training Programs Based on Kirkpatrick’s Model

Introduction

One of the most significant functions of a manager is to offer training to employees. This is important in order to provide employees with the knowledge to keep up with changing technology and social-economic set up in the globe (Koontz & Weihrich, 2006). It is essential to acknowledge the fact technology influence the effectiveness of training programs. Therefore, the managers need to implement training programs for the employees which also act as a motivational aspect of work benefits to the employee.

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The manager should come up with ways to handle training, how to implement it and how to measure the effectiveness of the training (Batra, 2007). This is primarily so that the manager can measure cost of training the employees versus the benefits gained from training them. One of strategies to reduce cost in employees’ training programs is by using technology.

In an effort to reduce the cost of training, a manager should use tools at his disposal to compare different methods of training available for the training (Ferreira, Erasmus, & Groenewald, 2009). Some of the costs of training that the manager should compare include the cost of booking facilities, travel costs and hours spent away from the job by the employees.

This research paper was established to assess if e-training were effective as other traditional training methods. The main objective is to figure out the reaction of the trainees towards the training style and the benefits of the program in the education sector.

Research sample

In this experiment, the researcher assessed the effectiveness of e-training on 50 teachers who went through such training. The teachers’ main objective was to obtain a diploma in learning resource centers. The duration of the course was one semester, which is equivalent to four months. The teachers went through the training while simultaneously carrying out their duties. The specimen of 50 teachers consisted of both male and female teachers in equal numbers.

Methodology

The researcher used the guidance of the Kirkpatrick’s evaluation model as the main tool of assessment. The tool helped the researcher to come up with the survey questions used in questionnaires, interviews and making observations on the sample for analyzing the results.

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The Kirkpatrick’s model of evaluation has four levels evaluation which are reaction, learning, behavior and results (Kirkpatrick, 2009). The reaction level evaluates the attitude of the learner towards the training program. Learning level measure the knowledge gained by the sample population that has undergone training. Behavior level evaluates how well the knowledge gained is applied by trainees. Level of Results evaluates how well the main objective of the e-training is achieved.

Kirkpatrick’s evaluation model

Level 1-Reaction

Kirkpatrick main objective of coming up with the level of the evaluation was to measure how favorable the training program was rated by learners (Foreman, 2008). It was also to assure the learners that their feedback was important to researchers and the trainers.

The main objective was to measure the reaction of the trainees to the training program, the instructors and the environment. Questionnaires were administered to the sample, and 100% response was sort. The questionnaires were administered to learners during and after training, and the reaction was measured qualitatively as favorable to trainees or not. Questionnaires were administered during training after every two months. The same evaluation can be extended to the instructors in order to measure the reaction of the instructors to the program and the learners.

Table 1: Questionnaire for learners to measure reaction.

Statement Strongly disagree Disagree Natural Agree Strongly agree
I did like and enjoy the training.
I did consider the training relevant.
It was good use of our time.
I did like the elements of venue and timing. Others include the domestics and the style.
I did participate in the training program all the time.
I felt at ease and comfortable with the experience.
I did make effort to benefit from the learning training and experience.
I would take another training program if presented with a chance.
I like the training environment.
I interacted well with the instructor.

Level 2-Learning

According to Kirkpatrick, learning is a measure of the skills gained by learners through understanding principles, facts and techniques of the program (Mathison, 2005). Learning is also a measure of change in knowledge and attitudes of the learners due to the training (Ibrahim, Rozar, Razik, & Kormin, 2011). Questionnaires and interviews to measure learning in this research were administered every two weeks of the training period.

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The researcher interviewed the supervisor and management of the institution where the trainees were teachers. This was in the form of survey which helped the researcher understand the reasons behind which the training program was implemented. The following are the survey questions:

  • What were the skills that the trainees lacked before training?
  • Was the lack of skills and knowledge affect trainees’ deliverables at work?
  • Is the training necessary for trainees to gather new skills or to improve their skills?
  • Was lack of certain skills one of the criteria for identifying the trainees?
  • What are the skills and knowledge do trainees expect to acquire?
  • What is the impact of the acquired knowledge on the whole institution?

The researcher sought to understand if the management were satisfied with knowledge and skills gained from the training. The researcher asked the management if they would organize training from the experience of the just concluded training. The researcher inquired from the managers if the cost incurred was covered with the knowledge base acquired by the trainees.

A pre-test of the expectations of the learners was carried out before the training program started (Parry, 1997). This sought to figure out what the trainees thought about the e-learning program as compared to other style of learning programs. The pretest also sought to evaluate the skills and knowledge of the learners before the test which would act as datum for measuring improvement. The following are questionnaires showing a pre-test and post-training test for the sample.

Table 2A: Pre-training test questionnaire.

Description True False Comments
I am at entry level of learning resource centers in education.
I have prior knowledge of learning resource centers in education but no practical experience.
I have prior experience with e-training program.
I intend to learn practical applications of the training.
I have prior training but not with e-training program.
I do not think that e-training is best suited for practical skills.
I would have preferred to undergo training in a traditional classroom to increase the knowledge base.
E-training is new to me but looking forward to the experience.

Table 2B: post-training test questionnaire.

Statement Strongly disagree Disagree Natural Agree Strongly agree
I did learn what was intended to be taught.
I did experience what was intended for us to experience.
I gained practical skills to use in my daily job.
I learnt new principles of learning.
All aspects of learning were not included in the training.
There was extra relevant information in the training.
I learnt from interaction.
I learnt from the use of e-resources.
The training encouraged critical thinking.
The training encouraged me to visualize situations accurately.

Level 3-Behaviour

Kirkpatrick’s argument on behavior evaluation is in the importance of behavior and attitudes in learning. Most training programs are considered successful if they help instill behavior change in the work place (Capps, 2008). Measuring the behavior change is a complex study and is mostly qualitative than quantitative (Teddlie, 2009). Behavior change is mostly observed by a third person, although behavior change may occur as a result of change in attitude (David, Salleh, & Iahad, 2012). The test results of the trainees alone cannot be used to measure the behavior change of a trainee after the training. Other factors like the trainees approach to dealing with problems and their attitude while implementing their knowledge should be considered.

The questionnaire below was administered every 2 months to the trainees. Observations on the behavior of the trainees in the job place were made regularly without the knowledge of the trainees. Other resources that were used to measure the behavioral change of the trainees were interviews with fellow teachers and the supervisor of the trainees. The instructors were also interviewed on the behavior change they had noticed on the trainees.

Table 3: Evaluating behavior questionnaire.

Statement Strongly disagree Disagree Natural Agree Strongly agree
I used my training into effect at work.
I used relevant skills and knowledge.
The change in activities and performance while on duty exhibited improvement in skills.
There was a change in behavior and improvement on advanced skills and knowledge.
Transfer of knowledge and skills acquired is possible.
Critical thinking has helped overcome communication and education barriers.
I am able to get more time for learning through change of attitude and proper planning.
I am self-conscious on behavior change and development. Other aspects improved include knowledge and skills development.

The researcher sought to know the expectations of the trainees’ supervisors before and after the training. The researcher also sought to evaluate change in behavior of the trainees from their colleagues who did not go through the training. The colleagues helped the researcher to understand how well the trainees implement their skills thus inspiring them to undergo that. The researcher conducted interviews with the students of the trainees to understand the approach of guidance to the students before and after the training. This helped the researcher to understand the attitude of the trainees while implementing the skills and knowledge gained.

The researcher also administered questionnaires on the trainees’ supervisors. This was to help the researcher compile attitudes and behavior of the trainees before and after the training. The survey included the following questions:

  • How are the trainees’ teaching and guidance different from the training?
  • As a supervisor, what are the changes in the trainees’ behavior?
  • What are the behavioral changes expected from the trainees?
  • Was behavior a criterion in determining the trainees legible for this training?

Level 4- Results

Kirkpatrick’s level of evaluation of results focuses on the direct impact of training on the job (Combs & Falletta, 2000). The job in question here is education, which then means that evaluation of results, is the direct impact on the teaching abilities of the trainees. This means that the objective of this research on this level would be to measure the effects of training on the students who learn from the trainers. The outright measure would be the increase in skills and knowledge of the students handled by the trainees in contrast to before the training.

The researcher sought to measure the value of education offered by the trainees before and after the training. The researcher used questionnaires on the trainees to measure the results of the training (Combs & Falletta, 2000).

Table 4: Evaluating results questionnaire.

Statement True False Comments
I was able to encourage students to use critical thinking in problem solving.
I was able to educate students on the importance of language in relations.
My students are able to complete their tasks actively and on time.
I have started using technology in my work and encouraged my students to use technology for getting information.
I am able to guide students through resources for learning which makes it easy for them to acquire knowledge.
I am able to use technology first and effectively to gather information necessary and relevant to my career.
I have a broader understanding of education and knowledge when imparting it to my students.
I am available to students for extra discussions.

The researcher also carried out pre and post training evaluation of the trainees’ abilities to carry out their work effectively. The researcher used interviews administered on the students and supervisors in order to evaluate the results of training on the teachers. The following survey questions were used for evaluation of results.

  • As a student, how technical are trainees after training as compared to before the training in their teaching?
  • How do the trainees inspire their students to use the critical thinking in solving problems?
  • How do the trainees encourage their students to relate with others in use of language for learning?
  • As the supervisor, how has e-training helped in achieving set goals of the school?
  • What are the benchmarks used to measure the benefits of the training?

Post training program evaluation

This is a level of evaluation that allows the instructors and management of an organization to get feedback on the perspective of the trainees on the program. The feedback allows management and instructors to deliberate on the program’s improvements that can harness effectiveness in consecutive training programs. This feedback also allows management to make decisions on the aspects of the program that are not beneficial to their employees and the institution. The training benefits become realistic with time hence it is done a few months after the training.

In this research, a post training program evaluation was carried out. This was in the form of interviews on the trainees a month after the training program was over. The whole research sample was interviewed using the following questions:

  • What aspects of the program benefited you most?
  • What aspects of the program were interesting but not relevant to the training?
  • What aspects of the program should be omitted in consecutive training? Why?
  • What aspects of the program should be added in the consecutive training that was missing in the just concluded one? Why?
  • What aspects of the program should be approached differently and why?
  • What are the aspects of the program that require the more time?
  • Is the program good as it is or should improvements be made?
  • Do you have any other comment concerning the program?

Discussion

The research showed that most trainees were satisfied with e-training as it allowed them time to carry out other duties. Most trainees were encouraged to use e-training programs to learn as it allows them time to use knowledge and skills immediately after learning it. Although there was minimum interaction between learners, a majority of the trainees agree that e-training is cost effective to all parties involved. According to the results of the research, most trainees felt that e-training is cheaper than traditional training for the trainees in terms of fees paid. The management of the school where the trainees were teachers thought it was a good idea to use e-training. E-training helps the teachers open up to technology thus learning its vices and importance to use effectively.

The trainees appreciated the platform that is offered by the technology for exchange through e-training. This is because they were able to have discussion forums through the internet without physical proximity and with least cost as compared to other forms of exchange. They then encouraged their students to get into a discussion that help them to increase their knowledge on different aspects of learning.

The trainees exhibited change in behavior and teaching approach from the training. These inspired other teachers to undergo the same training when they get the chance. The students of the trainees noted change in attitude and availability of the teachers in attending to them. The students agree that the trainees encourage them to use language to foster good relations and use critical thinking to enhance learning.

The trainees were able to use the tools they were provided with to enhance learning. These tools included unlimited internet and an e-classroom to get the materials they need for learning. The trainees were able to use e-learning tools to communicate to their instructors and other students who were undergoing e-training. This shows that the trainees did not get just knowledge on the learning subject but also on the usage of technology for interaction and communication as well as for learning. The ability to use technology for learning was an achievement for the teachers as it requires personal planning to achieve objectives within the time stipulated. This is especially because the trainees did not get time off work for training.

The trainees were also able to pass on this information to their students and even went ahead to apply e-learning for their students on certain aspects of education. This included setting up a portal where the trainees could leave coursework for their students and collect the same on time. This helped the students, and the trainees to reduce the bulk of hardcopies carried around for the institution.

Technology is a global set-up that is recommended for use in an effort to globalization. Therefore, the trainees were able to achieve the link between their localized work, and the globalized way of executing their duties in education. This is necessary as it broadens the margins of thought of an individual hence a better understanding of education and the world.

The management of the institution where the trainees worked was satisfied with the training and appreciated the knowledge and skills gained in comparison to the cost of the training. The management also acknowledged that the trainees showed behavior change in the way they handled their work. The management was open to try out other forms of training with regard to the nature of subject to be taught. This is because e not all subjects are compatible with e-training as they require one-on-one guidance in practical experimentation.

The management would still consider traditional classroom training especially when training is carried out simultaneously with team building exercises. The management felt that e-training encouraged online research since it is cheaply available compared to physical libraries and information centers.

The trainees feel that the management can work together with the instructors to improve the program in consecutive training. They all appreciated that the program was beneficial to them, but improvements in some aspects can help improve learning.

Conclusion

Kirkpatrick’s model of evaluation of learning is an essential and effective tool. The researcher agrees that all four levels of evaluation offered by Kirkpatrick’s model are necessary aspects of training (Alvarez, Salas & Garofano, 2004). The researcher also agrees that e-training is cost effective as opposed to traditional methods of learning (Strother, 2002). This is because it saves on time, transport and inconveniences of weather and other natural occurrences. The researcher acknowledges that e-training is broader as compared to traditional training.

E-training offers broader research base as compared to traditional classroom training (Clark & Richard, 2011). The training also offers a discussion platform that is not limited by time or physical locations. This makes e-training acceptable since learning is offered on a global scale.

References

Alvarez, K., Salas, E., & Garofano, C., M. (2004). An integrated model of training evaluation and effectiveness. Human resource development Review, 3(4), 385-416.

Batra, V. G. (2007). Organisation development systems: A study in organisation behaviour and organisation management. New Delhi, ND: Concept Publishing Company.

Capps, P. (2008). The use of kirkpatrick’s four levels of evaluation by performance improvement practitioners. Michigan, MI: ProQuest LLC.

Clark, R. C., & Mayer, R. E. (2011). E-learning and the science of instruction: Proven guidelines for consumers and designers of multimedia learning. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Combs, W. L., & Falletta, S. V. (2000). The targeted evaluation Process: A performance consultant’s guide to asking right questions and getting the answers you trust. Washington, DC: American Society for Training and Development.

David, O., Salleh, M., & Iahad, N. (2012). The impact of e-learning in workplace: Focus on organizations and healthcare environments. International Arab Journal of E-technology, 2(4), 203-210.

Ferreira,E., J., Erasmus, A., W. & Groenewald, D. (2009). Administrative management. Cape Town, SA: Juta and Company Ltd.

Foreman, S. M. (2008). Kirkpatrick model: Training evaluation practices in the pharmaceutical industry. Michigan, MI: ProQuest LLC.

Ibrahim, A., Rozar, N. B., Razik, M. A., & Kormin, K. B. (2011). Comparing effectiveness e-learning training and traditional training in industrial safety and health. International Journal of Online Marketing, 1(3), 46-61.

Kirkpatrick, D. L. (2009). Evaluating training programs: The four levels. Buckingham, NSW: ReadHowYouWant.

Koontz, H., & Weihrich, H. (2006). Essentials of management. New Delhi, ND‎: Tata McGraw-Hill Education.

Mathison, S. (2005). Encyclopedia of evaluation. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

Parry, S. B. (1997). Evaluating the impact of training: A collection of tools and techniques. Washington, DC: American Society for Training and Development.

Strother, J. (2002). An Assessment of the Effectiveness of e-learning in corporate training programs. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning,3(1), 1-17.

Teddlie, C. (2009). Foundations of mixed methods research: Integrating quantitative and qualitative approaches in the social and behavioral sciences. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Inc.

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