In particular to Kirk Patrick's Model there have been questions with respect to the levels of reaction and learning. Indiana University website cited below identifies 7 specific limitations of the Kirkpatrick model:
Not situation driven
Not programme specific
It depends on contextual needs
You need to specify unit of analysis (groups or teams, individual, organization)
Misleading – Levels are different perspectives not a hierarchy
Level 1 can only provide participant reaction and is subjective
Most companies do level 1 or level 2 evaluations which only provide limited
E.F. Holton (“The flawed four-level evaluation model”, 1996) is one of the main critics. He mentions that Kirkpatrick provides a model for thinking about how to evaluate but the model does little to inform what to evaluate and how to link the results to strategy.
Holton and other critics specifically note that Kirkpatrick’s model:
Implies a hierarchy of values related to the different values, with organizational performance (result) being seen as more important than reaction, etc.
Assumes that the levels are each associated with the previous and next levels; this causal relationship, it is argued, has not always been established by research;
Is too “simple” and fails to take account of the various intervening variables affecting learning and transfer;
Implies correlation between learner reactions and measures of learning and subsequent measures of changed behaviour – but we know now that “satisfaction” is not necessarily related to good learning and changed behaviour (see also above);
Implies that performance during training is a prediction of post-training performance;
Ignores the frequent failure of training to transfer into the workplace (due to the range of organizational factors which may inhibit success);
Ignores – when it comes to the level of “result” – the inherent difficulty on linking soft skills training to hard results.