Kirkpatrick Model Level 1: Does your instruction get two thumbs up?

by Dominique Turnbow

In this post, we’ll explore Level 1 of the Kirkpatrick Model. In the previous post, I introduced the model and pyramid I’ll be referring to throughout this series. While this model was not developed specifically for information literacy instruction, it is applicable to the work that we do as instruction librarians.

Lets start at the bottom of the pyramid with Level 1: Reaction. Each level has questions that drive the kind of information that you should strive to answer if you are evaluating or assessing for that level.

Level 1 of the Kirkpatrick Model attempts to uncover your learners reaction to their learning experience. How satisfied are learners with the lesson? Were learners engaged? Is the content relevant to them?

It might surprise you that the first level seems to have nothing to do with what learners actually learnedbut instead with their satisfaction of the learning experience, which is comprised of learner engagement and relevancy of content. Research that suggests that motivation plays a key part in one’s learning and learners are less likely to retain information if content is not relevant (learn more about relevancy and motivation here and here). The ARCS Model provides a framework for promoting and sustaining learner motivation through attention, relevance, confidence and satisfaction.

Kirkpatrick Model, Level 1

Evaluation or Assessment?

Many people use the terms “evaluation” and “assessment” interchangeably; however, these terms have different definitions for educators and instructional designers. I like to use the definition provided by ACRL’s guidelines for Characteristics of Programs of Information Literacy that Illustrate Best Practices: you assess people and evaluate things. For example, you would assess what students learned from your workshop; you would evaluate how they liked the workshop format, delivery, etc. When writing learning outcomes for Level 1 evaluation, consider using phrases like “learners will be confident,” “learners agree that content is relevant to them,” or “learners will be engaged in the workshop.” Assessment plays a part in the Kirkpatrick Model in Level 2 and Level 3 where you examine the student’s learning and behavior change.


Now it is your turn to think about how you might incorporate Level 1 evaluation into your next information literacy workshop or learning experience. Develop something you could use to capture Level 1 evaluation, like an activity, worksheet, etc. Join the conversation by posting your ideas and questions in the comments. I’ll post my ideas on November 14.


8 thoughts on “Kirkpatrick Model Level 1: Does your instruction get two thumbs up?

  1. Pingback: Smile sheets and Level 1 Evaluation | Instruction by Design

  2. I guess I try to avoid *asking* for this, although I frequently get level 1 when I think I’m asking for (what I hope is) level 2. I often use blank index cards and ask students to write down something like “1 thing they’ve learned today that they’ll use for their assignment.” Usually, l get a mix of having them recall specific tools (I’ll use Web of Science or I didn’t know about mendeley, etc.) but I also get replies like “it was really useful, I learned lots.” Which is essentially just a smile sheet. Also, if there are things a student is unclear about, I’ll send a follow up to the teacher to share with the class, but other than that, what do I do with these? Should I *always* use an evaluation in a 1 off class?


    • Hi Annie — it is really up to you if you want Level 1 evaluation in a class. It probably has a lot to do with your audience, too. For example, if you are teaching new library users, it might be important for them to feel a connection with the library and you’d want to know if you reduced library anxiety. That would be L1. It is also useful for one-shots because it is more difficult to get Level 2 and nearly impossible to get level 3 (more about this in the Level 2 and 3 posts). Since instructors don’t have the opportunity to follow up with students after a one-shot, it is a challenge to assess learning (L2) and especially behavior (L3). Of course it all goes back to your learning outcomes.


  3. Pingback: What have your students learned? | Instruction by Design

  4. If you don’t need them, don’t do them. I would only do L1 evaluation if is linked to a learning outcome or you just wanted the feedback.


  5. Pingback: Kirkpatrick Levels 3 & 4: They know it, but are they doing it? | Instruction by Design

  6. Pingback: First Year Experience Recap | Instruction by Design

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