The goals of a needs assessement include: examining how an initiative is functioning in relation to its goals or objectives, determining the current status of operations, or deciding what future direction the program might take.
Gap analyses are a primary method of conducting a needs assessment in education. Gap analyses can identity whether there is a difference between the performance of a program and its desired objectives or outcomes. The difference between the current state and the desired state is the gap that can then be addressed. Interviews, focus groups, or open forums that target various key stakeholders can be conducted to understand how different audiences perceive the program. The qualitative data can then be used to create survey tools. Once the analysis is carried out, the evaluator can analyze the identified needs to craft program changes and guide the direction of modifications.
Process for Conducting a Needs Assessment
Beginning by asking questions within the following categories can assist in the development of a needs assessment.
- Who are the key stakeholders and how will they be involved?
- What are the goals of the program?
- How does each stakeholder view the performance of the program?
- Why is an needs assessment being considered?
- Who will use the results of the needs assessment?
- What avenues will data dissemination take?
- What issues will the needs assessment address, such as organizational, program design or accreditation?
- How will the population be sampled to ensure that all perspectives are adequately represented?
- What techniques will be used to collect the data?
- What strategies will be implemented to measure effectiveness of the assessment?
- What are the resources that are needed to implement each component of the program?
- What or who is available to assist with the design, the implementation and the analysis of the needs assessment?
Data Collection and analysis:
- What types of data should be collected?
- What is the timeline for collection?
Goldstein, I. L., & Ford, J. K. (2002). Training in organizations: Needs assessment, development, and evaluation (4th ed.). Belmont, CA, US: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.
Royse, D. (2009). Needs Assessment,New York, Oxford University Press.
Stufflebeam, D. (1985). Conducting Educational Needs Assessments, Dordrecht, Netherlands. Springer.
Hauer, J. & Quill, T. (2011). Educational needs assessment, development of learning objectives and choosing a teaching approach, Journal of Palliative Medicine, 14 (4), 503-508.