Kirkpatrick Model: Its Limitations as Used in Higher Education Evaluation


  • Michael Cahapay Mindanao State University, General Santos City


Kirkpatrick model, Program evaluation, Higher education, Limitation, Review


One of the widely known evaluation models adapted to education is the Kirkpatrick model. However, this model has limitations when used by evaluators especially in the complex environment of higher education. Addressing the scarcity of a collective effort on discussing these limitations, this review paper aims to present a descriptive analysis of the limitations of the Kirkpatrick evaluation model in the higher education field. Three themes of limitations were found out: propensity towards the use of the lower levels of the model; rigidity wich leaves out other essential aspects of the evaluand; and paucity of evidence on the causal chains among the levels. It is suggested that, when employing the Kirkpatrick model in higher education, evaluators should address these limitations by considering more appropriate methods, integrating contextual inputs in the evaluation framework, and establishing causal relationships among the levels. These suggestions to address the limitations of the model are discussed at the end of the study.


Abdulghani, H., A Al Drees, A.M., Khamis, N., & Irshad, M. (2014). Research methodology workshops evaluation using the Kirkpatrick’s model: Translating theory into practice. Medical Teacher, 36(1), s24-s29.

Abernathy D.J. (1999). Thinking outside the evaluation box. Training Development, 53(2), 18-23. Retrieved from

Alliger, G., and E. Janak. Kirkpatrick’s Levels of Training Criteria: Thirty Years Later. Personnel Psychology 42(2), 331-41.

Arthur, W., Jr., Bennet, W., Edens, P.S., & Bell, S.T. (2003). Effectiveness of training in organizations: A meta-analysis of design and evaluation features. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88(2), 234-245.

Arthur, W., Jr., Tubre, T. C., Paul, D. S., & Edens, P. S. (2003a). Teaching effectiveness: The relation- ship between reaction and learning criteria. Educational Psychology, 23(3), 275-285.

Aryadoust, V. (2017). Adapting Levels 1 and 2 of Kirkpatrick’s model of training evaluation to examine the effectiveness of a tertiary-level writing course. Pedagogies: An International Journal, 12(2), 151-179.

Baskin, C. (2001, December). Using Kirkpatrick’s four-level-evaluation model to explore the effectiveness of collaborative online group work. In Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education (pp. 37-44). Melbourne, Australia: Biomedical Multimedia Unit, The University of Melbourne.

Chang, N. & Chen, L. (2014). Evaluating the learning effectiveness of an online information literacy class based on the Kirkpatrick framework. Libri, 64(3), 211-223.

Covington, J.A. (2012). Efficacy of webinar training for continuing professional education: applications for school personnel in k-12 settings (Ph.D. dissertation, University of North Carolina) Retrieved from

Dewi. L.R., & Kartowagiran, B. (2018). An evaluation of internship program by using Kirkpatrick evaluation model. Research and Evaluation in Education, 4(2), 155-163.

Embi, Z.C., Neo, T.K., & Neo, M. (2017). Using Kirkpatrick’s evaluation model in a multimedia-based blended learning environment. Journal of Multimedia Information System, 4(3), 115-122, 2383-7632.

Farjad, S. (2012). The Evaluation effectiveness of training courses in university by Kirkpatrick model. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 46, 2837-2841.

Haupt, G. & Blignaut, S. (2007). Uncovering learning outcomes: explicating obscurity in learning of aesthetics in design and technology education. International Journal of Technology and Education, 18(4), 361-374.

Hilbert, J., Preskill, H., & Russ-Eft, D. (1997). Evaluating training’s effectiveness. In L. Bassi & D. Russ- Eft (Eds.), What works: Assessment, development, and measurement (pp. 109–150). Alexandria, VA: American Society for Training and Development.

Kirkpatrick, D. L. (1959). Techniques for evaluating training programs. Journal of the American Society of Training and Development, 13, 3-9.

Kirkpatrick, D.L. (1976). Evaluation of training. In R. L. Craig (Ed.), Training and development handbook: A guide to human resource development (2nd ed., pp. 301–319). New York: McGraw-Hill.

Kirkpatrick D..L, Kirkpatrick J.D. (2006). Evaluating training programs: The four levels (3rd ed.). San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publication.

Lambert, N. (2011). Ban happy sheets! — Understanding and using evaluation. Nurse Education Today, 32(1), 1-4.

Liao, S.C., & Hsu, S.Y. (2019). Evaluating a continuing medical education program: New World Kirkpatrick Model Approach. International Journal of Management, Economics and Social Sciences, 8(4), 266-279.

Lillo-Crespo, M., Sierras-Davo, M.C., McRae, R., & Rooney. K. (2017). Developing a framework for evaluating the impact of Healthcare Improvement Science Education across Europe: A qualitative study. Journal of Educational Evaluation in Health Profession, 14, 28.

Masood, R., & Usmani, M.A.W. (2015). A study for program evaluation through Kirkpatrick’s model. Khyber Medical University Journal, 2(7), 76-80. Retrieved from

Miller, B.J. (2018). Utilizing the Kirkpatrick model to evaluate a collegiate high-impact leadership development program (Master’s thesis, Texas A&M University, ‎College Station, Texas‎). Retrieved from

Moreira I.C., Ramos, I., Ventura, S.R., Rodrigues, P.P. (2018). Learner’s perception, knowledge and behaviour assessment within a breast imaging E-Learning course for radiographers. European Journal of Radiology 111, 47-55.

Morrison J. (2003). ABC of learning and teaching in medicine: Evaluation. British Medical Journal, 326(7385), 385-387.

Nickols, F. W. (2000). Evaluating training: There is no "cookbook" approach. Retrieved May 05, 2020 from: ~nickols/evaluating_ training.htm

Paull, M., Whitsed, C. & Girardi, A. (2016). Applying the Kirkpatrick model: Evaluating an Interaction for Learning Framework curriculum intervention. Issues in Educational Research, 26(3), 490-502. Retrieved from

Quintas, C., Fernandes Silva, I., & Tiexiera, A. (2017). Assessing an e-Learning and b-Learning Model - A study of perceived satisfaction. International Journal of Information and Education Technology, 7(4), 265-268.

Reio, T.G., Rocco, T.S., Smith, D.H., & Chang, E. (2017). A Critique of Kirkpatrick’s Evaluation Model. New Horizons in Adult Education & Human Resource Development 29(2), 35-53.

Rouse D.N. 2011. Employing Kirkpatrick’s evaluation framework to determine the effectiveness of health information management courses and programs. Perspectives of Health Information Management, 8, 1c–5c. Retrieved from

Sahin, V. (2006). Evaluation of the in-service teacher training program “The Certificate for Teachers of English” at the Middle East Technical University School of Foreign Languages. (Dissertation, Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey) Retrieved from

Steele, L. M., Mulhearn, T. J., Medeiros, K. E., Watts, L. L., Connelly, S. & Mumford, M.D. (2016). How do we know what works? A review and critique of current practices in ethics training evaluation. Accountability in Research, 23(6), 319-350.

Tamkin, P., Yarnall, J. & Kerrin, M. (2002). Kirkpatrick and beyond: A review of models of training evaluation (Report No. 392). London, England: Institute for Employment Studies

Topno, H. (2012). Evaluation of training and development: An analysis of various models. IOSR Journal of Business and Management, 5(2), 16-22.

Yardley, S. & Dornan, T. (2012). Kirkpatrick’s levels and education ‘evidence’. Medical Education, 46(1), 97-106.



How to Cite

Cahapay, M. (2021). Kirkpatrick Model: Its Limitations as Used in Higher Education Evaluation. International Journal of Assessment Tools in Education, 8(1), 135-144. Retrieved from