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Needs Assessment – Essential Step One
Submitted by Karen Carleton on October 19th, 2012
“So you want to fit into that favourite pair of jeans again?”
“Let’s try a few more repetitions and increase the challenge a bit.”
“Come on, you’ve got this!!”
People close to me have long seen me as a fitness enthusiast. A thirteen year stint as a fitness instructor led me to enter the field of workplace learning and performance. Fast forward several years and my commitment to exercise and healthy eating remains. At a broader level, we all need continuous learning and improvement throughout our lives – personally and professionally. Where do we begin to plan for our goals? With a comprehensive needs assessment.
For life or work-related goals, learning more about our needs is crucial. Some good questions to ask ourselves: What are the desired results? What are the potential barriers to achieving the results? What are the best sources of information and guidance in this area? Case in point: improving one’s fitness level with a qualified personal trainer is a one example of a situation that typically involves a systematic needs assessment process.
Much like a workplace trainer, a good personal trainer (like mine) will assess your needs first. Included in my fitness assessment were: health/lifestyle history, goals, current measurements, motivation level and support levels of people around me. Finding out where I was at and what my goals were helped me clearly visualize what I wanted. Related to my goal-setting I was asked: How will your life improve as a result of these changes? How will these changes be important to you? How confident are you that you can reach your goal? Do you believe the trainer will help you make progress? Reflecting on these questions allowed me to clarify my vision of fitness and revealed the gap between my current and desired states, which my trainer is helping me close.
Needs assessment, whether for improving fitness or developing workplace skills/knowledge, is the place to start when planning to reach your goals. With work-related training, you begin with the end in mind and where the trainees are by assessing: current knowledge/performance, motivation, desired outcomes (vision), goal value, self-efficacy, social supports, and belief in the training’s effectiveness.
Not everyone has an energetic, 20-something personal trainer planning ever-challenging activities, consistently cheering them on and reminding them of their fitness goals like I do. In any case, people and organizations everywhere benefit from having competent trainers who systematically assess learning and performance needs before designing and facilitating suitable training. A good trainer also helps you follow best practices by providing guidance and support to reach your goals.
For a step-by-step guide on writing learning objectives with lots of templates and examples, check out our Writing Learning Outcomes e-book. As you complete each step in the guide, you will write the results for your particular training project in the workbook provided. When you have finished working through the workbook, you will have a complete set of documented learning objectives for your project. Find out more about Writing Learning Outcomes and download the free introductory chapter today.