I am continuing in my review of ISPI’s performance standards. The remaining standards follow a systematic process that is familiar to instructional designers, who refer to it as ADDIE (Add-ee).  This process consists of five steps or phases: Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation.  This process has stood the test of time and remains the basis for most instructional design efforts or discussions.  ISPI differ slightly with the addition of a standard for requirements.

Needs assessment or analysis is ISPI’s fifth performance improvement standard (the A in ADDIE).  This is a vast topic.  Entire books are written on this subject.  Although it would be impossible to provide a thorough description of needs analysis in this space, I will attempt provide enough information to help you understand the factors to consider and the procedures to follow in a successful analysis effort.

In my experience, the needs assessment begins with standard two, context.  In my post on that standard I wrote, “identifying and discussing potential barriers will help design an intervention that will achieve the desired outcome.” Barriers to performance are often indicators of what is causing a performance problem.  Although one must be careful not to draw conclusions based on incomplete information, the perspective gathered early in the process can help plan subsequent data collection and analysis.

Robert Mager is one of the best known authors in performance assessment and instructional development.  In his book, Analyzing Performance Problems, he provides a process for analyzing a performance problem.  The first step in his process is to describe the performance problem.  While I agree that this is a prerequisite for a successful needs analysis, it is not always a fast or simple process.  It is often difficult to describe the actual problem but easy to describe the symptoms.  That is why it is critical to follow a systematic analytic process.  Since there are many approaches to needs analysis I will take several posts to describe how to conduct a successful needs assessment.