Training Activities – In-Class Needs Assessments
One of the components of the Instructional Systems Design (ISD) or ADDIE Model of training design is to conduct a needs assessment to help determine whether training is needed and to identify the needs of your learners.
Unfortunately, lack of time, money, and other organizational constraints often limit the ability of a trainer to collect appropriate data. This is especially true when an outside consultant or trainer is brought in and the program sponsor has preconceived ideas of what the training needs are, even though no one has actually asked potential learners or training participants.
Training Activities – In-Class Needs Assessments by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas, Awarding Winning Author, and Blogger
There is an alternative to a formal needs assessment; if you find yourself in a situation where you are in a classroom of participants when no assessment has been done, or you do not know much about learners or their previous level of training or experience. In such instances, you can conduct a limited “in-class” assessment to gather some useful information. Once obtained, you can make split-second adjustments to your content or approach to training delivery.
Here are three simple techniques you can use to gather participant background information:
Show of Hands – Facilitator-led question and answer session
Simply ask a series of closed-end questions related to your learners, their experience or knowledge level, or training expectations and needs to which they respond by raising their hands in response as appropriate.
This mentally and physically involves learners while providing useful information to you and the participants. This technique also engages visual auditory and kinesthetic learning modalities/styles.
Questions should require a short answer or seek a number or quantity. For example:
- How many of you have more than one (five, ten, etc) year(s) of experience with …?
- Who has attended a session on today’s topic/subject before?
- Who supervises other employees?
- Who has heard of brain-based learning before?
Flip Charted Questions
Participants respond to closed-ended questions on flip chart pages attached to the walls as they enter the room.
Typically, these should be questions that require a yes/no or number response so that they can be quickly viewed and tallied from the front of the room or as people look at them while seated.
- Have you ever attended a session on today’s topic before?
- How long have you worked for this organization (e.g. Less than 1 yr, 2-5, 6-10, 10+)? Set up options in columns.
- How many years of experience do you have (with the session topic)? Offer options in columns as above.
- Do you normally train (front line, supervisors/management, executives, various levels)? Again, set up the potential responses in columns.
3 X 5 Cards
As participants enter the room, pass out a sheet of paper that welcomes them, and contains some administrative details. For example:
- Please sit where you would like but not next to people you work with daily so that you can network.
- Get to know one another before the session starts.
- Write one thing you would like to learn during today’s session on your 3X5 card and drop in the box by the door before the session begins.
After the cards are dropped in the box, read the responses prior to starting the session in order to get a sense of their needs and expectations, then make adjustments to content and delivery as appropriate.
By using techniques such as these, you actively engage learners early in the session and identify useful information that can help you personalize content to the needs of your learners.