| Learning Needs Analysis
Learning needs analyses are undertaken in industry and business to determine the gap between the existing skills, knowledge and abilities of staff and those that are needed for the organisation to function at the desired level. Once this gap is determined, decisions can be taken as to the type of training required (if this is the preferred action) and the form of delivery.
Likewise, in an educational setting, a learning needs analysis helps students identify where they are in terms of their knowledge, skills and competencies, versus where they wish to be - what are their learning goals?
Adults learn better when they can see a reason or relevance as to why they are following a programme of study. By conducting a learning needs analysis with prospective students, the learning provider can identify what programmes are needed. Including learners from the outset will help ensure that course content, schedules, etc., are in line with the needs of the student. By assisting the learner to identify the gaps in his/her own learning, the provider will be better able to support the student.
Why conduct a learning needs analysis?
A learning needs analysis will help:
Ideally, a learning needs analysis is conducted with a group of students before a course takes place. The consultation determines what type of course is needed. However, in many cases it may not be possible to conduct a learning needs analysis as a prescribed curriculum may be in place, or funding may be secured for running a predetermined programme. In such instances, providers may not have the luxury of developing the content with the students, or of changing elements of the course design. Instead they may need to persuade learners why a particular course is of value. Tutors should still consult the group to determine what their expectations are and to consider the most suitable methodologies to adopt.
Steps in Learning Needs Analysis: Design - Conduct - Analyse
When designing the learning needs analysis, the aim is to:
The following methods, or a combination of these methods, can be used:
Ensure the culture and context of the respondents is taken into consideration, e.g. questionnaires may not be appropriate for learners with limited literacy levels. It is important to use open ended and descriptive questions that will elicit information. Pilot the questionnaires/ interview forms that have been devised so as to ensure sufficient information is received, as this will allow for revision if necessary.
Gather the information and sort it into categories that help you identify themes/topics that need to be addressed.
Suggestions for Reflection
| What factors does the education provider need to consider when planning a course?
| How do you involve learners before you launch your programme?
| How do you analyse your learner's needs?
| How might you consider involving your learners in future?