Historical background of Kirkpatrick’s Early Verbal Learning
Donald Kirkpatrick is a well known professor majoring in training and development. His skill and expertise is credited to his experience as a lecturer and as head of the American Society for Training and Development. Kirkpatrick has created a model that is widely used for training and evaluation, making verbal learning more effective.
Verbal learning is basically the memorization and retention of words that form the basic elements of associative learning. Kirkpatrick’s model is used in verbal learning to help out with the evaluation.
The first level of learning evaluation is used to measure the reaction of a student to what they just learnt as well as what they thought of the training session. The other level is used to measure if learning has taken place or not. Learning can be defined as a result of the training which is an increase in knowledge or skill. The third level is used to evaluate change in behavior and the application of what was learnt during the training session(s). The final level evaluates the effects of what was learnt to a trainee’s immediate environment, a good example being the organization in which they work. This evaluation is based on the trainee’s performance or change in behavior.
The four levels of evaluation are important as they help formulate a foundation or objectives for training. However, some people chose to avoid the first level of evaluation. This is because it is not directly connected to the learning process, and can be biased, because it is more of a personal opinion. On the other hand, this level of evaluation should be taken seriously because it helps gauge a learner’s level of understanding. The level also helps avoid distractions that could crop up in the process of the learning process. The other levels of evaluation are most important, owing to the fact that change in behavior is the core objective of any type of learning or training.
Several modifications have been suggested to make better Kirkpatrick’s model. An example is JJ Phillips’ suggestion of adding a fifth level to the model. The level of evaluation, known as Return on Investment, would be used to compare the fourth level to the costs of training. This would help attach value to the training. Other experts have argued that a fifth level should be used to evaluate the impact of the training to the external environment, which comprises of clients and the community at large.
Kirkpatrick’s Early Verbal Learning
As discussed earlier, Kirkpatrick’s model of learning evaluation is comprised of four levels (Strother, 2002). The first level is used to evaluate the reaction of all those involved in the training. It is expected that the participants react differently to the whole training program. This level measures if the participants like what they have learnt, if they feel that what they have learnt is relevant to their job, and if they generally enjoyed the learning experience.
In the current times, e-learning is widely used in training programs. This method best suits most of the corporate associations, since it has a number of benefits to the participants if the training program, as well as to the organization itself. Past researches have shown that many learners are for training online because it is flexible and much cheaper, as compared to the traditional classroom setting. With an online training program, anybody is in a position to study and work at the same time. In addition to that, the learner has the freedom to choose where they will study from; it could at home, or at the work place. All a learner needs to do is plan their time and designate whatever time they need to their jobs and studies. Learners also have access to a variety of learning sources that are available online (Strother, 2002).
Researches have also been conducted to analyze what instructors feel about e-learning. Most of the instructors feel that learners who opt for online learning perform slightly better that those learners who study in a classroom setting. Generally, e-learning is as effective as being in a classroom setting, and in some situations, it is even more effective.
The second level of learning evaluation, which is the learning itself is used to measure how much change has occurred to a learner’s skill and knowledge, as a result of the facts, techniques, and principles that they acquired during the training period (Strother, 2002). This can best be done by issuing a pre-test and post-test to the learners.
Researches carried out about this level have shown that e-learning is fast gaining popularity because of the benefits associated with it. However, not much difference can be cited between the learning that takes place as a result of e-learning and learning in a classroom setting. However, the fact that face-to-face delivery is more effective cannot be ignored. Learning online yields better performance, since the students are more motivated and there is reduced tension during exams. Another benefit of e-learning is that is enhances a learner’s capability of critical thinking.
The third level of Kirkpatrick’s model is used to measure change in behavior of the learner. Basically, change in behavior is the best indicator of how much learning has taken place in a learner. Change in behavior is usually the main goal of any corporate training program, but it is very difficult to measure how much change in behavior in behavior has taken place (Strother, 2002).
Measuring the change in behavior of an individual may be difficult and so the changes in the business are what everyone looks out for. Change in business is the ultimate expected result, since it has a connection to change in behavior of the trainees. A training program would be termed effective if the changes in behavior result to increased profits as well as increased customer satisfaction. If customers are not satisfied, then the changes experienced are not termed as good for the business. Surveys can be carried out to measure how much customers are satisfied with changes in the business. One of the goals of any business is to have satisfied customers and hence, the need to ensure that changes in the business enhance customer satisfaction, otherwise corporate training programs would not be necessary.
Researches that have been carried out show that most of the trainees do not pay much attention to the material content of the training programs. Their focus is on improving their skills in carrying out their duties and in how they interact with clients. More efficiency in performance and productivity of employees as well as changes in how they interact with clients are benefits to the business. This is because the direct result is customer satisfaction, which yields increased sales and profits.
The level four of Kirkpatrick’s model seeks to evaluate the results of a training program (Strother, 2002). There are a number of factors that make it difficult to measure the direct impact of training on the business, be it for e-learning or the traditional classroom setting.
The expected results of any training program include reduced costs of production and general running of the business, higher quality of services provided, increased production, reduced rates of employee turnover and absenteeism from the work place. It is difficult to carry out an evaluation that would satisfy the above needs and so most of the companies simply credit improved performance of the business to the training programs.
Firms have come up with different ways to measure the results for learning. An increase in the sales of a firm is a positive result of the training. Other businesses argue that training programs add value to the business and the trainees as well.
The above four levels are the traditional evaluation levels that Kirkpatrick used for his model. However, with changing times, there was the necessity to add another level onto Kirkpatrick’s model, so as to make it more efficient in learning evaluation. Phillip’s ROI, gives forth the fifth level of Kirkpatrick’s model.
ROI involves a number of calculations (Strother, 2002). This level of evaluation is very long and complex. It involves the conversion of the results at level four into monetary values. The monetary values are then compared to costs of the training program, and the final result is a return on investment. This is the best evaluation for the success of any training program, regardless of the method used, e-learning or the traditional class-setting.
The Kirkpatrick’s model of learning evaluation can be summarized as below:
Level I: measuring the reaction of the trainees and the trainers which is done at the end of training.
Level II: learning is measured using an approach that best suits the business.
Level III: behavioral changes are measured.
Level IV: results are measured based on improvements seen in the daily running of the business. This includes increased productivity and reduced costs.
Level V: the Return On Investment is calculated by converting the improvements made and increased productivity to monetary values.
Verbal learning can be distracted by a number of factors. Such distracters include factors like non-verbal disabilities and other mental problems that may make the learning process difficult or almost impossible. The non-verbal learning disability is a neurological disorder whose symptoms include poor social habits, visual impartialities, and weakened sensory abilities (Weinberger, & Harrison, 2011, p. 49).
Symptoms of non verbal learning disabilities are seen in children who otherwise can be termed as being good in reading, spelling and speaking. Children with this disability also have good memories. They may go through the early years of school life, but in the later years, problems may arise. Those suffering from this mental disorder may be accused of being antisocial and uncooperative, while in the real sense they are doing their best to fit in their environment. However, all their efforts do not add up well since the disorder tends to slow their thinking, causing an imbalance in the way they live. A person suffering from this disorder has difficulties in taking non verbal clues, which form the basis for verbal learning.
Another problem in relation to verbal learning is the short term verbal memory and learning. Researches have shown that there are distinctive differences in people who can retain facts and information for a long time and others can only retain the information for a while. On this very note, others can retain most of what they learn while others can retain only a few elements of the total content.
As discussed earlier, early verbal learning is about the retention of words that form the basis of associative learning. Paired associative learning involves two items: the stimulus and the response. However, if the two words used are too similar, some problems may occur when trying to recall or retain them.
Verbal learning is an important process in the growth and development of a child. Effective early verbal learning forms a good foundation for the child, making him or her better person in their later days. People who have undergone proper verbal learning right from their young days till they become working adults are more productive, efficient at their workplace, hardworking, and social. They are able to take well orders and interact well with everybody around them. For these reasons, it becomes very necessary to implement strategies and that would help develop verbal learning, and more so Kirkpatrick’s model of verbal learning evaluation.
The most appropriate future development of verbal learning is Computer-Supported International Learning Environments, popularly referred to as the CSILE. Computer-Supported Intentional Learning Environments is a media system that is educational-based. The system can allow for information in a variety of media: such as texts and graphs.
All information is entered into a common database from where it can be retrieved. The most exciting thing about this system is that any information entered in the common database can be edited, commented on, and even linked to other sources of information (Eleanor, 1994, p. 28). On the other hand, this benefit would be a great risk to the originality of entered information, since it is very easy to alter the content of the database, regardless of the type of media used.
This computer-based way of giving instructions to students allows for autonomy and gives the students an opportunity to have more control over what they study and how they study it. This enhances the responsibility of the student and their ability to think critically.
Researches and further studies have made it possible for this system to allow for the creation of programs that make learning more fun and involving, since the students have the freedom to create their own common databases. Further intended developments include making the system a foundation for all learning activities. This means that all learning processes be automated.
In conclusion, the system should be remodeled in a way that would ensure that all learners are actively involved. This means that the software should allow for the students to create their own programs when learning. The direct result of this is longer retention of whatever is learnt.
Strother Judith. (2002). An Assessment of the Effectiveness of e-learning in Corporate Training Programs. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, Vol. 3, No. 1.
Kirkpatrick’s model of verbal learning is widely used in businesses today. The model has come in handy while trying to assess the success of training programs that the corporations organize. This evaluation is a form of feedback that helps predict the future of the corporation.
Strother Judith. (2002). An Assessment of the Effectiveness of e-learning in Corporate
Training Programs. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, Vol. 3, No. 1
Weinberger R. Daniel, & Harrison Paul. (2011). Schizophrenia. New Jersey: Wiley
Eleanor J. Gibson. (1994). An Odyssey in Learning and Perception: Learning,
Development, and Conceptual Change. Massachusetts: MIT Press.