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4 Questions to Determine if Your CPR Training is Effective

Applying the Kirkpatrick Model to Your CPR Training Program

Achieving student engagement is a fundamental challenge in any form of education, especially when the student is a beginner or is someone refreshing their skills. If you are an instructor in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), you've likely struggled to keep people engaged - especially when teaching laypeople.

Laypeople learning CPR for the first time are often surprised by the prescriptive training agenda necessary to impart a clinical skill. They are not prepared for the didactic training involved; instead, they expect to get right to practicing compressions on a manikin. The challenge for many instructors is that when students encounter this prescriptive approach, they may become disengaged. They can begin to focus just on passing the test. But will they leave confident to perform later? And, how will they perform later?

One of the most tried and tested models for measuring training effectiveness is the Kirkpatrick Model. Trusted by educators for decades, the Kirkpatrick Model can help you target opportunities for engagement by addressing four simple, yet targeted, questions.

Below, we outline how to apply this model to your training and achieve engagement during every class.

1. How Do Your Learners Respond to Your CPR Training?

According to the Kirkpatrick Model, it is important to gauge each student’s reaction to the material so that you can better identify what they need to stay active in the learning process.1 Where are the opportunities within your prescribed curriculum to make the training more interesting, useful, and challenging?

To better engage learners in your course, you might consider including incentivized games. Gamification, or the process of applying game-related principles to learning, has become a popular way of motivating learners to participate.2

Some proven benefits include:

  • Students having an increased feeling of ownership over their learning
  • More fun in the classroom
  • More visible tracking of student learning progress.3

Evidence has shown that even physicians are turning toward online video "games" as a learning tool, requiring less time to learn necessary information and competing against other physicians.4 The use of gamification entering the healthcare field indicates that it has applications to learning life-saving techniques. And, CPR training is no exception.

Friendly competition can make a big impact in the classroom; today's CPR feedback technology can help to facilitate this type of competition naturally.



One app to control and get feedback from QCPR manikins and AED trainers. Get the QCPR feedback you know and love, simplified and expanded. Enhance debriefing with extensive reporting for instructors, offering an unparalleled training experience for both community and professional users.

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2. How Do You Measure What Your Learners Have and Haven't Learned?

After addressing learner engagement, the Kirkpatrick Model recommends that you move your focus to how much the students have learned. Do your students leave the course knowing when and how to perform effective CPR? In order to provide a comprehensive answer, you may need to more-accurately measure the quality of each student’s CPR.

With the ability to measure chest compression fraction, rate, depth, and recoil, along with ventilations, today’s manikin technology can show your students precisely how their performance relates to the content you have been teaching them.

The American Heart Association’s (AHA) 2020 Guidelines lists these key metrics that correlate to better human survival:5
  • Chest compression fraction (CCF): at least 60%
  • Chest compression rate: 100–120 compressions per minute
  • Chest compression depth: 2-2.4 inches for an average adult
  • Chest recoil: avoid leaning on the chest between compressions to allow complete chest recoil
  • Ventilation: enough to produce visible chest rise

In addition, it's worth gauging how likely your students are to train others or continue practicing their CPR skills. 70% of Americans feel helpless to act during a cardiac emergency because they either do not know how to administer CPR or their training has significantly lapsed.6 Understanding what sudden cardiac arrest is, knowing what to do in an emergency, and receiving accurate feedback and corrections during hands-on practice may encourage more bystanders to take action if and when the time comes.

3. How Well Do Your Learners Apply Their CPR Training?

The third level of the Kirkpatrick Model specifically advocates assessing behavior change (following training). Will your learners perform CPR on a victim of sudden cardiac arrest?

Research shows that more bystanders stand by idly when faced with a cardiac emergency. Only 46% of cardiac arrest victims receive CPR from a bystander.7

A study conducted by the American Heart Association delved deeper to uncover exactly why most people choose not to intervene.8 Reasons respondents provided include:


Skills not up-to-date
CPR is "too complicated"
Lack of confidence


"Getting past those psychological barriers of fear and denial means many more lives that could potentially be saved...Some CPR is better than no CPR"9

Dr. Rob Rosenbaum, emergency doctor with Christiana Care Health System and EMS director for New Castle County, Delaware

For instructors, this means putting an increased focus on improving learner confidence. Rather than simply understanding the mechanics of good CPR, students gain confidence through repetitive practice, accurate performance feedback, and the reinforcement of proper technique. 

4. Are You Creating the Impact You Want To?

When measuring the overall results of your training, the number of lives saved carries the most weight. Every minute and a half, someone in the United States goes into cardiac arrest outside of a hospital.10 Four out of five times, the victim is at home.11 Because of this, it isn’t typically a paramedic or a doctor beginning CPR on a victim – it’s a layperson, a victim’s friend, a victim's loved one.

As a CPR instructor, you have the ability to prepare them to save a life. With the most engaging training methods, positive learner attitudes, and the right tools, students can leave your class feeling as inspired as they did when they entered.

Is Low Classroom Engagement Your Hurdle?

Do you feel like your learners are leaving your CPR training program less inspired than when they entered it? Use these tips to grab and keep your learners’ attention.

DO's and DON'Ts Checklist


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  1. American Red Cross. (2017). CPR training. Retrieved from
  2. Learning Theories. (2016). Gamification in education. Retrieved from html
  3. Ibid
  4. Patten, B. (2015). How health care can benefit from gamification. Training Industry, Inc. articles/how-health-care-can-benefit-from-gamification.aspx
  5. American Heart Association. (2020). 2020 American Heart Association Guidelines for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care, Part 3: Adult Basic and Advanced Life Support. Circulation, 142:S366–S468. DOI:
  6. American Heart Association. (2014). CPR Statistics. Retrieved from CPR/CPRFactsandStats/CPR-Statistics_UCM_307542_Article.jsp#.WZLwxlWGOUl
  7. American Heart Association. (2017). 2017 hands-only cpr fact sheet. Retrieved from
  8. American Heart Association News. (2017). Most americans afraid to perform cpr. Retrieved from
  9. Haelle, T. (2015). Bystander cpr doubles cardiac arrest survival rates. Everyday Health. Retrieved from http://www.everydayhealth. com/news/bystander-cpr-doubles-cardiac-arrest-survival-rates/
  10. Ibid
  11. American Heart Association. (2017). See reference #7.

Helping You Boost CPR Training Effectiveness

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