Dr. Robert Vaughn and Dr. Don Kirkpatrick

Dr. Robert Vaughn and Dr. Don Kirkpatrick

Don Kirkpatrick recently passed away. He truly earned the status of “legend” in the business of organizational training. His most important contribution was the creation and introduction of the “four levels of training” in 1959 & ’60. These have since served as a basis for evaluation and design of objectives in the field. (People in education use Bloom’s taxonomy; people in training use Kirkpatrick’s model. He once told me that I was the only person he knew who had done a comparison of the two. It’s in chapter five of The Professional Trainer.)

I met Don a number of times, though I could not claim he was a close acquaintance by any means. Several of his books were published by Berrett-Koehler, the same company which publishes The Professional Trainer.  We met at ASTD conferences and in relation to B-K’s promotions and events. He was a wonderful presenter with a great sense of humor and self-depreciating humility about his success.

Don’s work was especially important to me, since I not only used it in my own training design and teaching of trainers, but as one of the two major parts of my doctoral dissertation. I applied his four levels as the structure in my attempt to link Herzberg’s 1959 Motivator Hygiene theory to the measures of satisfaction with training programs.

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