The Kirkpatrick Model on ABAP trainings
Imagine a scenario where you have infinite resources and an infinite amount of time, and you are an ABAP consultant with over thirteen years of experience and one single objective, i.e., train a batch of fresh ABAP consultants. How will you handle this like no one ever has? How can you ensure that your training was effective?
As I prepare for an upcoming training engagement, I have asked myself to ponder the aforementioned scenario and list down my thoughts in an article. After spending an insane amount of time gathering all the scattered (shower) thoughts, I think I have an outline that may just take the form of an answer. Taking the scientific route and relying on time-tested models, after some research, I landed on the Kirkpatrick Model.
The formula is nothing new. It has been used across sectors such as government, military, corporate, consulting, services, etc. to evaluate training effectiveness. The Kirkpatrick Model was created by Dr. Donald Kirkpatrick when he used it in his Ph.D. dissertation, “Evaluating Human Relations Programs for Industrial Foremen and Supervisors,” in the 1950s.
The four levels of this model are reaction, learning, behavior, and results. It’s beyond the scope of this article to explore the principles of these four levels. I will endeavor to explain how I plan to make use of it.
Reaction is the base, the foundation, of effective training. This is where we, as trainers, have to ensure participant satisfaction. How? constant communication and ensuring a safe environment where each participant can make their voice heard. This aids in participant satisfaction and sets the mood for the upcoming sessions, which leads to a higher engagement level. In the ABAP scenario, this is where having a detailed hands-on plan comes into play. When we present a valid case study or project outcome right at the beginning of the session, we present the plan and invoke their participation through this one activity.
Learning is the next level of the Kirkpatrick Model. Here, as a trainer, we have to present topics that help participants balance knowledge and skill. Knowledge is the degree to which participants know certain information. It’s what makes them say, “I know it.” where skill is the degree to which they can perform a certain task. It’s what makes them say, “I can do it right now.” Each minute provided to them to work on a hands-on project or development activity will result in a gradual gain in confidence for the participants.
Behavior is the degree to which participants apply what they learned during training when they are back on the job. This level is where the trainer actively participates by monitoring, reinforcing, encouraging, and rewarding critical behaviors. This forms the foundation for enabling on-the-job learning. In the ABAP training scenario, here is where we provide tips and tricks to overcome common issues, provide code quality guidance, reward effort, etc.
Results is the final level where, if all other levels in the model are followed correctly, the targeted outcomes occur. The targeted outcome has already been presented to the participants as a successful submission of the case study or project outcome at the initial stage of the training.
At the end of each training session, feedback in the form of a participant survey will ensure a higher quality of the upcoming training sessions.
There cannot be a one-size-fits-all template for any training session, but what is presented here is a time-tested model that can yield effective results in your next training engagement.
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