Handshaw - Performance Consulting / Learning Services

What's Missing from ADDIE? by Beth Hughes Return


Most of us in Learning and Development use some variation of the ADDIE model – it’s the gold standard for our industry. But…did you ever notice that something is missing? Any guesses what it that might be? It’s results! This might surprise you, knowing that the “E” in ADDIE stands for evaluation, so let’s take a closer look. Instructionaldesign.org (via Wikipedia.org) defines ADDIE’s evaluation phase as follows:

The evaluation phase consists of two parts: formative and summative. Formative evaluation is present in each stage of the ADDIE process. Summative evaluation consists of tests designed for domain specific criterion-related referenced items and providing opportunities for feedback from the users.

Did you notice that there’s no mention of the word “results?” As described above, the goal of summative evaluation is to assess whether or not the learner has achieved the learning objectives (very relevant information), and to gain an understanding of learners’ opinions about the training (very useful information). What this definition overlooks is whether or not the learning intervention accomplished the business goals it set out to achieve (very important information).

This ADDIE-based description of summative evaluation is learner-focused, but what about the impact to the business? Of course we care if the learner is able to demonstrate the skills and knowledge learned and apply it to their jobs – that’s the whole point of a training intervention in the first place. However, there’s a bigger picture we also need to focus on: caring why they’re able to. The “why” is the driver of the entire initiative. The need for a training intervention was driven by some need for a change in performance. The need for a change in performance was, in turn, driven by some business need. Often, our summative evaluation efforts assess change in performance, but stop short of assessing the impact to the business. Can we really say the training was successful if we meet the learners’ objectives, but not the business’s?

Lucky for us, the Kirkpatrick-Katzell Model helps us get to results. You’re likely familiar with the levels: Reaction, Learning, Behavior, and Results. Now, we get to that “R” word! Kirkpatrickpartners.com describes the “Results” level as, “the degree to which targeted outcomes occur as a result of the training and the support and accountability package.” If we want to know whether our learning interventions directly contributed to the success of the business initiative that drove it, we need to strive to reach this level of evaluation.

Understanding the business impact of our learning initiatives sounds like valuable information to gather. This information can tell you whether the training program should be adopted, continued, or modified for improvement, and can inform decisions about future performance and training initiatives. So, it begs the question, why do we have to sift through at least two models and four levels to find any mention of the word “results?” Sure, “results” are implied if you dig deeper into just about any given model, and if you apply other instructional design concepts you’re familiar with. But, shouldn’t we be more intentional about results if it’s outcomes that we’re striving for?

The Handshaw Instructional Design Model helps you develop training that delivers results. This results-oriented model aligns instructional design with business goals. The key differentiator of this model is that it brings the fourth level of evaluation, results, into the mainstream, ADDIE-type instructional design model by integrating performance consulting skills with instructional design methodology. Using this process, you identify business and performance gaps early in the process, which allows you to gain clarity on the results you want to achieve. Understanding the desired outcomes early in the process means that you can be intentional about achieving the intended results during every phase of the instructional design process. In other words, if your target is clearly defined, you can begin by taking direct aim at it, and then adjust and refine your aim as needed during every step along the way.

You can learn more about instructional design that aligns with business goals in the book, “Training that Delivers Results,” by Dick Handshaw, or visit our website at www.handshaw.com.


Handshaw offers the following learning services to help your organization provide training that delivers results:

Instructional Design Capability Development

Handshaw works with L&D design teams develop capability for results-based instructional design. Through a combination of proven methodology, strategies, and real-world examples, we enable teams to develop learning programs that have a measurable impact on learner performance and business goals. Using a 3-step approach of program planning and customization, a scenario-based workshop, and focused coaching, Handshaw consultants can help design teams shift from delivering training products to delivering training solutions.

Learning Services

Handshaw provides clients with training solutions that deliver results. Handshaw consultants learn about your business goals, and support change by designing learning programs that align your learners’ performance with the desired outcomes. Our services include:

  • Results-based instructional design
    • Needs assessment
    • Design
    • Prototype
    • Evaluation
  • Learning solutions development
    • E-learning
    • Microlearning
    • Instructor-led training
    • Performance support
  • Change enablement services
    • Facilitation
    • Implementation
    • Project management
    • Communication

Workshops and Events

Handshaw offers a 1-day Instructional Fundamentals Workshop based on the book, Training that Delivers Results by Dick Handshaw. The workshop is a skill-building workshop focused on an instructional design approach and process that aligns with sustainable business results. Beth Hughes, Handshaw’s VP of Learning Services, is also available for presentations at corporate events, educational conferences, team meetings, and executive briefings.


About the Author

Beth Hughes has over 15 years of experience working with clients to identify needs, craft solutions, and build and implement learning interventions that meet clients’ business goals. She focuses on developing curriculum-level programs with comprehensive, blended learning designs. Beth is a Certified Performance Technologist by the International Society for Performance Improvement and serves as Handshaw's Vice President of Professional Services.