Hi All


Desperately trrying to find information which was mentioned at last week's conference about Kirkpatrick's thoery about learning style being debated/disproved.  Can anybody point me in the right direction, please?

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Elizabeth - Donald Clark discusses some of the issues here http://donaldclarkplanb.blogspot.co.uk/search?q=Kirkpatrick :

"Kirkpatrick is the first to admit that there is no research or scientific background to his theory. This is not quite true, as it is clearly steeped in the behaviourism that was current when it was written. It is summative, ignores context and ignores methods of delivery. Some therefore think Kirkpatrick asks all the wrong questions, the task is to create the motivation and context for good learning and knowledge sharing, not to treat learning as an auditable commodity. It is also totally inappropriate for informal learning."

There are references at the bottom of Donald's article.

I'd add that Kirkpatrick's model is focused on measuring the output ('reaction', 'learning', 'impact' etc.) of event-based learning.  Everything refers back to some form of learning 'event'.  Of course we know that most individual, team and organisational learning occurs outside learning events. therefore Kirkpatrick's model doesn't address the majority of learning that occurs in organisations (and outside them).  As such, it's a tool not only rooted in rather outdated, or rigid, psychological concepts but also limited by being wedded to structured, formal instruction models.


Charles, that is really really helpful, thank you so much.

The Kirkpatrick's model has been updated, or clarified, recently in accordance to what Donald Kirkpatrick actually said. Already in 1993 he stated:

"Trainers must begin with desired results and then determine what behavior is needed to accomplish them. Then trainers must determine the attitudes, knowledge, and skills that are necessary to bring about the desired behavior(s). The final challenge is to present the training program in a way that enables the participants not only to learn what they need to know but also to react favorably to the program."

This means the 4 levels is to be used both for planning and measuring, since if you don't start with the goals - how would you know what to measure afterwards?

Go to www.kirkpatrickpartners.com and register to get to their free resources and in specific the PDF "The Kirkpatrick Four Levels - A Fresh Look After 50 Years".


Brilliant, thank you Henrik.

Hi Elizabeth, just come acreoss this cool infographic re Kirkpatrick on fellow member Michelle Childs Pinterest board. Is a good start anyway! :^)



Thank you!

I don't know of anything by Kirkpatrick dealing specifically with Learning Styles although there is one strand of thought that rejects learning styles in general.  Frank Coffield and his colleagues wrote a helpful paper on this for the Learning & Skills Research Centre in 2004.

Don Clark's web site has a useful summary too... http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/hrd/styles.html

Thanks Andrew, I think I must have been getting my wires crossed. It was definately learning styles that I was after as we will shortly be embarking on delivering PTLLS and I thought this would be very relevant. The Kirkpatrick stuff is also very useful as well.

Hi Elizabeth,

Then you should read the Coffield paper.  I gathered a number of items in the attached zip file which I you'll find useful.



Great articles/documents there Andrew! I suspected miswiring there earlier also but I like the new Kirkpatrick approach so much I couldn't resist showing it... ;-)

Regarding learning styles my opinion is that humans could learn in all ways thinkable but not all subjects are suitable for all of these ways. For example, try to explain how the colors of the rainbow looks like to a blind person...

Mis-wiring...it's the humidity it's addling my brain.   I think you make an interesting point Henrik and I think we have become too hung up on an individual's learning 'style' rather than varying material and resources. Still, we live and learn!

Sorry to repeat references but I hadn't accessed comments above before I wrote the following. Elizabeth, sadly I was unable to attend much of the conference and so missed the bit where Kirkpatrick's stuff was discussed. If you google his work seems to focus on assessing effectiveness of training. I googled name and learning styles and got a link to Businessballs with quite a comrehensive article. I come from an education/pedagogy/psychology background and have always been suspicious of the pat nature of some of the watered down theory around learners and learning styles. For a comprehensive (173pages!!) dissection and gentle demolition of the mis-application of learning styles theory (which does not have Kirkpatrick in its index) you can download Learning styles and pedagogy in post-16 learning: a systematic and critical review from the learning and skills research centre published 2004, authors Coffield et al here's a link to a blog post about it that also has quite a useful discussion in the comments http://www.downes.ca/post/45819 I do hope this is come use to you Elizabeth. Couldn't resist trying to help as you said you were desperate!



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