Free research paper on level 3 evaluation

Transfer of Learning in Training and Development

Transfer of Learning

Transfer of learning in training and development is one of the primary and key aspects in training and development. It entails the continued and effective process whereby trainees apply the knowledge and skills that have been gained during the training process, both off and on the job. Transfer of knowledge entails the maintenance of behavior and the generalization and application of the learned behavior to new processes. Simply put, transfer of training refers to the extent or degree with which trainees are capable of applying the learned knowledge, attitudes, and skills obtained from the training program into their immediate environment. In order for the transfer of learning to take effect, the existing abilities, skills, and knowledge should be applied to influence the performance or learning of new skills or tasks. For this reason, learning in one context using a particular set of materials has an influence of exerting an impact on performance in another context, thereby leading to the transfer of training (John, 2007).

The fundamental function of training and development is to enable individuals to develop the knowledge and skills with which, when applied in their work environment leads to enhanced job and organizational performance. While the importance of training and development is widely acknowledged, the process of measuring success in learning in most times is not always aligned with the entire idea of learning (John, 2007). This can be evidenced from the Kirkpatrick Model that is popular for evaluating learning and development. The Kirkpatrick model is divided into four levels; three of these levels are devoted to the measurement of learning outcomes, and the last level is dedicated to the measurement of performance outcomes. According to the Kirkpatrick model, the idea of focusing on learning outcomes rather than focusing on performance outcomes has had a large influence in determining the process of designing and delivering training. Recent research studies have shown that the majority of learning and development conducted does not necessarily lead to the creation of performance change at a more acceptable rate. In fact, most research studies estimate that only 15-20 per cent of programs or learning initiatives in organizations results to the desired levels of work performance (Hamid & Dominique, 2008)

In order to find out the factors responsible for influencing or facilitating the transfer of learning, several questions regarding the transfer of knowledge during the training and development process should be answered (Leimbach, 2010). First, the factors leading to success or failure of learning in a training program should be determined. Second, the factors that characterize the transfer of learning should be identified. Third, the transfer of learning must be differentiated with the transfer of training. Fourth, the factors influencing the success or failure of programs to transfer knowledge needs to be examined during the evaluation. Finally yet powerful, the possible strategies that can be followed in ensuring the effectiveness during the facilitation of the transfer of training should be assessed and evaluated.

Based on the above questions, the transfer of training can be taken to refer to the process of having learned one activity based on the effects of executing another activity. Activity in this context refers to the application of skills, knowledge, and attitudes from the ‘ source’ to the ‘ target’ context (Leimbach, 2010). The results of transfer of training can be studied from three different perspectives. First, it entails the identification of similarities of the source and the target situations particularly looking for identical hypothesis or elements. Second, the appropriateness of the general strategies employed during the process of transfer is essential. Last, the factors influencing the transfer of knowledge by situated cognition should be examined. These revelations show that behavioral evaluation is an essential factor in level 3 evaluations.

Level 3 Evaluation of the Kirkpatrick Model

In order for the transfer of learning and training to occur, learning behavior must be generalized based on the job context and as well, it should be maintained over a considerable period during the entire duration of the job (Kirkpatrick, 1998). Level 3 evaluation involves the transfer of learning to the job and it is necessary for measuring the level of transferring knowledge, values, and skills from the training program on to the job or the workplace. Majority of results at level 3 are responsible for providing stronger levels of evidence to prove that the training that has been undertaken provides the desired impact on improving performance or rather it play a huge role in influencing improvements in the training program. Level 3 is responsible for determining the effectiveness of level (reaction) and level 2 (learning) in addition to evaluating the contributions of these models in determining the extent with which these models contributed to the transfer of learning (Kirkpatrick, 1998). At times, it is possible to determine whether employees failed to practice the skills obtained during training in level 1 and level 2.

As a form of behavioral observation, level 3 evaluation entails the assessment of behavior that involves careful observation of a person’s exhibited behavior in a given situation. For this reason, several factors have been put forward to help in assessing the reasons that have led to changed work behaviors and the specific situations that exhibits these changed work behaviors. Undeniably, the ongoing learning, feeling, and cognition process influences the behavioral process and manifests itself based on the reactions to the perceived need behavioral change. A change in work-related behaviors because of interventions in the process is a clear indication of the transfer process. This confirms the concept of transfer training that is responsible for indicating the extent with which individuals or workers who have undergone the training apply the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that were acquired from the training process in the workplace (Salas, and Cannon-Bowers, 2001).

The transfer of training or the failure of transfer to take is a complicated and complex process in itself and is dependent upon several factors. These includes but not limited to the intention or motivation of the learner or simply the characteristics of the trainee, the workplace environment such as the level of supervision or support offered, organizational environment and culture, and the instructional design. Other factors responsible for influencing the extent of learning in training and development include the level of commitment to the training, the perceived opportunity of using the acquired knowledge and skills in the work place environment, and as well the perceived abilities of applying the knowledge. Other influential factors responsible for determining the level of training entails the involvement of managers, trainers, or supervisors, and other factors that can act as barriers to the entire training process.

Factors that Facilitate the Transfer of Learning

According to level 3 evaluation of the Kirkpatrick model, two sets of factors are responsible for facilitating the transfer of learning (Kirkpatrick, 1998). The first set of factors encompasses factors within the training or learning environment that are capable of influencing training. Simply put, the factors in the first set involve the situational factors that are commonly referred to as situated learning. The second set of factors entail those factors that facilitate learning in the receiving organization. Speaking of the first set of factors, the most influential factors include the learning or training environment comparable to the actual work environment, and the extent of providing actual experience verses real world examples coupled with the practicing behaviors (Kirkpatrick, 1998). Other important factors that facilitate transfer of learning in the training environment includes the ability to make trainees decipher the general principles that are requisite to them during the training process with respect to their behaviors, and the need of explaining to them the importance and applicability of future on-the-job behavioral conduct (Kirkpatrick, 1998).

On the other hand, the second set of facilitating factors that are found in the receiving organization and those that are fundamental in the transfer of learning process include the level of organizational climate or culture for supporting change, and the authority of supervisors and other individuals whom work with the employees. Close individuals or workers play a significant role in either supporting or shunning away the new behavior that has been acquired from the training process. These individuals are capable of offering extrinsic rewards that include encouragement, help, and recognition among others. Other facilitating factors at the receiving organization includes the level of intrinsic reinforcement obtained through the application of the knowledge or skills learned as a result of performing the newly acquired roles or behaviors and the available opportunities that can enable the learner to apply the acquired knowledge and skills within the organization.

The Organization

The organizations culture, management structure, reward systems, and levels of executive support are responsible for influencing the transfer of learning and as well, the transfer of training. Primarily, the organization is influential in facilitating the knowledge transfer process in several ways. The first contribution involves facilitating the learning transfer process by establishing policies, work procedures, and managerial practices that might be appropriate or inappropriate for the creation of development within the organization (Pfeffer, and Sutton, 1999). Equally, there is a believe within many organizations that employees are individuals who are easily replaceable and hence, accepting the idea of behavior change leads to wastage of time. Based on this explanation, it is evident that the workplace environment plays a critical role by being supportive or unsupportive for facilitating the learning process. This aspect is commonly referred to as the transfer climate. Secondly, following Senge’s idea of a learning organization, it becomes evident that organizational leaders play an influential role in supporting and encouraging learning in addition to transforming the organizational culture through behavior change. Leaders are also responsible for determining organization-wide learning strategies, elimination of any form of bureaucracy, and encouraging employee involvement in various learning processes. Third, research conducted by Argote (1999), revealed that a directly proportional relationship exists between the organizational environment and the transfer of learning. As such, the more positive the organizational transfer climate, the higher the level of learning and training transfer. In concluding the influence of the organization in the transfer of the learning, Taylor (2000) argues that continuous-learning culture and the transfer of training climate exerts a direct influence on the transfer of training process.

The Workmates or Peers

These individuals play a fundamental role in affecting the level of the learning process during training and out of the training programme. During the training process, workmates or peers who participate in the training process together are capable of improving the training process and are as well responsible for increasing the amount of learning transfer (Salas, and Cannon-Bowers, 2001). The presence or absence of workmates in the training process acts as barrier or facilitator to the process of transferring learning. Varied researches have indicated that the support of workmates or peers leads to increased extents of the newly learned skills and knowledge.

The Individual or Trainee

The entire learning transfer process revolves around the facilitation of learning transfer or training transfer on the skills, knowledge, and abilities of the trainee. Other fundamental characteristics of the trainee during the learning process involve an individual’s personality, attitudes, personal values, and levels of motivation (Argote, 1999). To this purpose, an individual is an important feature in the process of transferring learning because the extent of learning during the training process is dependent upon their entry into the organizational learning experience, and their aims and objectives. The personality and characteristics of trainees play a significant role in the learning transfer process. For this purpose, trainers need to recognize that excellence in trainees is not obtained on a silver platter but rather it takes a process to refine them to the desired quality (Kanter, 2004).

The level of skills, abilities, and knowledge

The levels of a trainee’s knowledge, abilities, and skills obtained from the training and development process are considered to be among the most influential factors in the transfer of training and the transfer of learning process (Champika, Taha, Tabarak, & Qiuping, 2009). Irrespective of the degree of influence, the level of pre-training knowledge, abilities, and skills are known to be great influences in the learning process.

Personality and Characteristics of the trainee

The strength of this factor in the learning process is evidenced in factors such as ego strength, locus of control, and connection in the training process (Leimbach, 2010). Personality characteristics and traits can contribute to the training process but can fail to exert an impact in the training process (Leimbach, 2010).

Personal values and attitudes

Attitudes and personal values play a significant role in influencing the transfer of training and transfer of learning depending on how the trainers, supervisors, or managers conduct themselves throughout the training process. For instance, participants in the training process of attach benefits or values to the entire learning process thereby influencing the level of their strengths and determination and contributions to the learning process (Taylor, 2000). This makes personal values and attitudes to be among the highest factors responsible for facilitating the learning process during training.


Motivation is one of the crucial factors responsible for influencing both the transfer of learning and the transfer of training. Motivation is an important factor in facilitating learning through a number of ways that include affecting the attitudes of trainees in both the three fundamental aspects of the training process- pre-training environment, training environment, and the post-training environment (Hamid, & Dominique, 2008). Loss of motivation at any of these levels of the training environment is likely to have a significant impact of the level of the learning transfer process. Furthermore, motivation exerts influence on all other aspects that influences the training process.

The Training Design and training content

This covers the principles and methods with which instructors apply in order to ensure that trainees retain the right kind of information being taught during the training and development process. Additionally, the training design determines the manner with which skills and knowledge are applied in the workplace. Arguably, a well-designed training design equipped with solid learning principles is capable of supporting the learning process whereas a poorly designed training program is capable of delivering undesired effects (Kanter, 2004). Equally, the contents of the training process play a crucial role in enhancing the learning process because the environment and the learning content are aligned to the realities of the working environment.


Based on the analysis of level 3 evaluation, it is evident that the learning process during training and development is influenced by a complexity of factors. According the Kirkpatrick model, two sets of factors are responsible for facilitating the transfer of learning (Kirkpatrick, 1998). The first set of factors encompasses factors within the training or learning environment that are capable of influencing training. Simply put, the factors in the first set involve the situational factors that are commonly referred to as situated learning. The second set of factors entail those factors that facilitate learning in the receiving organization. Other influential factors that are responsible in determining the outcome of the learning process include motivation, the training design and content, personal values and attitudes, level of skills, abilities, knowledge, the organization, and effects of peers and workmates. This analysis shows that level 3 evaluation plays a critical role in measuring the extent of knowledge, skills, and/or attitude transferred to the real world or the workplace. Furthermore, level 3 evaluation is necessary for enabling individuals to get the most out of the training process and apply the factors that have been acquired from the training process into their respective work places.


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