The most common goal of instructional design is to bring about a change. But what is that change? It is the instructional designer's job to make this determination. Determining the source of the problem, whether after being told only that there is a problem or the specific change that needs to come about, requires a needs assessment or analysis.
The main purpose of the needs assessment is to determine instructional needs. What is it that learners need to know? Do they need to learn a new software program? Do they need to learn how to properly interact with their coworkers? These are some examples of instructional needs.
Typically, there are a number of questions that guide the assessment. The needs assessment should answer these questions:
The instructional designer should work on answering the following five questions during the needs analysis process:
There are a number of different ways that the needs assessment can be conducted. No matter the method that is used, the results should be the same. Most often, a combination of techniques will be used.
The four steps of the needs assessment are as follows:
Data gathering methods in a needs assessment can consist of the following:
Margaux Judge has worked as an e-learning editor and instructional designer for over ten years, writing and editing a wide variety of courses, from technical topics to soft skills. She has a Bachelor's degree in English and Textual Studies from Syracuse University and a Master's degree in Television Writing from Boston University.