By Don Kirkpatrick
Trainingmagazine graciously asked me to write the final Last Word column for 2011 in view of my
50-plus years as a training professional, my creation of the Four Levels of Evaluation, and my recent
retirement. Much has happened through these last 50 years.
The Four Levels of Evaluation were born when I went to work for the Management Institute of the University of Wisconsin, where I conducted workshops on soft skills including communication, leadership, coaching, managing change, and managing time. While I was doing this, I decided to work for my Ph.D., and I chose “Evaluating a Human Relations Program for Supervisors” as my dissertation. I received the degree in 1954 and continued to evaluate programs. In 1959, Bob Craig, editor of ASTD’s journal, called and asked me to write an article on evaluation. I told him I would write a series of four articles—one on each of the Four Levels: Reaction, Learning, Behavior, and Results—and he agreed. Thirty years later, I published my first book called “Evaluating Training Programs: The Four Levels.” To date, I’ve authored seven management books.
In industry, I served as Training director for International Minerals and Chemical Corp., where I developed a Performance Appraisal Program. Later, I served as Human Resources manager of Bendix Products Aerospace Division. I was elected president of the American Society for Training and Development in 1975 and received ASTD’s Gordon Bliss and Lifetime Achievement in Workplace Learning and Performance awards.
On a personal note, my wife, Fern, has always been in the picture. While I was traveling around the world presenting programs, she was taking care of our four children. During our marriage, we moved eight times, and she often had to try to sell our homes while I was gone. She showed our house in Park Ridge, IL, more than 100 times before it finally sold.
But she always supported me in my work. The latest highlight was a family reunion at Wisconsin Dells, where we celebrated our 60th wedding anniversary. All four of our children and their five spouses, our three grandchildren, and our two great-grandchildren helped us celebrate.
My son, Jim, and his wife, Wendy, are carrying the training torch by conducting certification programs and workshops; communicating through www.kirkpatrickpartn... and writing books containing upgrades to the Four Levels and others, including “Training On Trial.”
Tips for Today’s Trainers
Training legend, author, speaker, and consultant Don Kirkpatrick is the father of the Four Levels of Evaluation. Now retired, he plans to pursue his hobbies: fishing, tennis, golf, big band and classical music, and directing church choirs. To contact him or request an autographed transparency, e-mail him atmailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.