Training Needs Assessment - Part 2

Learning Content Analysis



Is the right content being trained?

  • Is content aligned with the project goals?

  • Is the content appropriate for the targeted audience?

  • Will the content be used on the job immediately?

  • Do we receive regular feedback on the content via training feedback/reporting?



Are we conveying the knowledge effectively?

  • Is the delivery method appropriate for the targeted audience needs?

  • Is the content engaging?

  • Do the activities foster learning?

  • Is the individual time to proficiency what we expect?

  • Is the knowledge being retained as expected post deployment?

  • Is the content packaged into “digestible” pieces?



Are we doing it as quickly and cost effectively as appropriate?

  • Is the development time appropriate for the content being delivered?

  • Are the development, delivery and administration costs in line with expectations?

  • Are we efficiently leveraging people, tools and content across sectors?

  • Can the content be easily updated or modified in response to change in business?



Is the delivery of the content consistent and repeatable?

  • Is the content being delivered as designed consistently across each sector?

  • Can the content be easily updated or modified in response to changes in the business environment?

  • Do we anticipate frequent updates due to technology changes/customization?

Training Needs Assessment - Part 1

Three Levels of a Training Needs Assessment


The purpose of a training needs assessment is to identify performance requirements and the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed by an agency's workforce to achieve the requirements. An effective training needs assessment will help direct resources to areas of greatest demand. The assessment should address resources needed to fulfill organizational mission, improve productivity, and provide quality products and services. A needs assessment is the process of identifying the "gap" between performance required and current performance. When a difference exists, it explores the causes and reasons for the gap and methods for closing or eliminating the gap. A complete needs assessment also considers the consequences for ignoring the gaps.

Three Levels of a Training Needs Assessment:

Organizational Assessment:

Evaluates the level of organizational performance. An assessment of this type will determine what skills, knowledge, and abilities an organization needs. It determines what is required to alleviate the problems and weaknesses of the organization as well as to enhance strengths and competencies, especially for Mission Critical Occupation's (MCO). Organizational Assessment takes into consideration various additional factors, including changing demographics, political trends, technology, and the economy.

Occupational Assessment:

Examines the skills, knowledge, and abilities required for affected occupational groups. Occupational assessment identifies how and which occupational discrepancies or gaps exist, potentially introduced by the new direction of an organization. It also examines new ways to do work that can eliminate the discrepancies or gaps.

Individual Assessment

Analyzes how well an individual employee is doing a job and determines the individual's capacity to do new or different work. Individual assessment provides information on which employees need training and what kind.

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The ADDIE model is the generic process traditionally used by instructional designers and training developers. The five phases—Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation—represent a dynamic, flexible guideline for building effective training and performance support tools. While perhaps the most common design model, there are a number of weaknesses to the ADDIE model which have led to a number of spin-offs or variations.

It is an Instructional Systems Design (ISD) model. Most of the current instructional design models are spin-offs or variations of the ADDIE model; other models include the Dick & Carey and Kemp ISD models. One commonly accepted improvement to this model is the use of rapid prototyping. This is the idea of receiving continual or formative feedback while instructional materials are being created. This model attempts to save time and money by catching problems while they are still easy to fix.

Instructional theories also play an important role in the design of instructional materials. Theories such as behaviorism, constructivism, social learning and cognitivism help shape and define the outcome of instructional materials.

In the ADDIE model, each step has an outcome that feeds into the subsequent step.

Analysis > Design > Development > Implementation > Evaluation

Analysis Phase

In the analysis phase, instructional problem is clarified, the instructional goals and objectives are established and the learning environment and learner's existing knowledge and skills are identified. Below are some of the questions that are addressed during the analysis phase:

* Who is the audience and their characteristics?
* Identify the new behavioral outcome?
* What types of learning constraints exist?
* What are the delivery options?
* What are the online pedagogical considerations?
* What is the timeline for project completion?

Design Phase

The design phase deals with learning objectives, assessment instruments, exercises, content, subject matter analysis, lesson planning and media selection. The design phase should be systematic and specific. Systematic means a logical, orderly method of identifying, developing and evaluating a set of planned strategies targeted for attaining the project's goals. Specific means each element of the instructional design plan needs to be executed with attention to details.

These are steps used for the design phase:

* Documentation of the project's instructional, visual and technical design strategy
* Apply instructional strategies according to the intended behavioral outcomes by domain (cognitive, affective, psychomotor).
* Create storyboards
* Design the user interface and user experience
* Prototype creation
* Apply visual design (graphic design)

Development Phase

The development phase is where the developers create and assemble the content assets that were created in the design phase. Programmers work to develop and/or integrate technologies. Testers perform debugging procedures. The project is reviewed and revised according to any feedback given.

Implementation Phase

During the implementation phase, a procedure for training the facilitators and the learners is developed. The facilitators' training should cover the course curriculum, learning outcomes, method of delivery, and testing procedures. Preparation of the learners include training them on new tools (software or hardware), student registration.

This is also the phase where the project manager ensures that the books, hands on equipment, tools, CD-ROMs and software are in place, and that the learning application or Web site is functional.

Evaluation Phase

The evaluation phase consists of two parts: formative and summative. Formative evaluation is present in each stage of the ADDIE process. Summative evaluation consists of tests designed for domain specific criterion-related referenced items and providing opportunities for feedback from the users.

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Cognitive Load

Cognitive Load

The term cognitive load is used in cognitive psychology to illustrate the load related to the executive control of working memory (WM).

Another aspect of cognitive load theory involves understanding how many discrete units of information can be retained in short-term memory before information loss occurs. An example of this principle that seems to be commonly cited is the use of 7-digit phone numbers, based on the theory that most people can only retain seven "chunks" of information in their short-term memory.

Intrinsic cognitive load

The term "intrinsic cognitive load" was first described by Chandler and Sweller. Accordingly all instruction has an inherent difficulty associated with it (e.g., the calculation of 2 + 2, versus solving a differential equation). This inherent difficulty may not be altered by an instructor. However many schemas may be broken into individual "subschemas" and taught in isolation, to be later brought back together and described as a combined whole.

Extraneous cognitive load

Extraneous cognitive load is generated by the manner in which information is presented to learners and is under the control of instructional designers. This load can be attributed to the design of the instructional materials. Because there is a single, limited cognitive resource, using resources to process the extraneous load reduces the amount of resources available to process the intrinsic load and germane load (i.e., learning). Thus, especially when intrinsic and/or germane load is high (i.e., when a problem is difficult), materials should be designed so as to reduce the extraneous load.

An example of extraneous cognitive load occurs when there are two possible ways to describe a square to a student. A square is a visual and should be described using a visual medium. Certainly an instructor can describe a square in a verbal medium, but it takes just a second and far less effort to see what the instructor is talking about when a learner is shown a square, rather than having one described verbally. In this instance, the efficiency of the visual medium is preferred. This is because it does not unduly load the learner with unnecessary information. This unnecessary cognitive load is described as extraneous cognitive load.

Germane cognitive load

Germane load is that load devoted to the processing, construction and automation of schemas. While intrinsic load is generally thought to be immutable, instructional designers can manipulate extraneous and germane load. It is suggested that they limit extraneous load and promote germane load.

Bloom's Learning Taxonomy

Bloom's Learning Taxonomy

In 1956, Benjamin Bloom headed a group of educational psychologists who developed a classification of levels of intellectual behavior important in learning. Bloom found that over 95 % of the test questions students encounter require them to think only at the lowest possible level...the recall of information.

Bloom identified six levels within the cognitive domain, from the simple recall or recognition of facts, as the lowest level, through increasingly more complex and abstract mental levels, to the highest order which is classified as evaluation. Verb examples that represent intellectual activity on each level are listed here.

Figure 1 Kemp Instructional Design Model

  1. Knowledge: arrange, define, duplicate, label, list, memorize, name, order, recognize, relate, recall, repeat, reproduce state.
  2. Comprehension: classify, describe, discuss, explain, express, identify, indicate, locate, recognize, report, restate, review, select, translate,
  3. Application: apply, choose, demonstrate, dramatize, employ, illustrate, interpret, operate, practice, schedule, sketch, solve, use, write.
  4. Analysis: analyze, appraise, calculate, categorize, compare, contrast, criticize, differentiate, discriminate, distinguish, examine, experiment, question, test.
  5. Synthesis: arrange, assemble, collect, compose, construct, create, design, develop, formulate, manage, organize, plan, prepare, propose, set up, write.
  6. Evaluation: appraise, argue, assess, attach, choose compare, defend estimate, judge, predict, rate, core, select, support, value, evaluate.


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