Before embarking on a voyage to create instructional programs, it is essential that one has an understanding of the learner population/s for which the training is directed. This article provides guidelines and procedures for conducting a Learner Analysis.
Who and How Many?
Here are some helpful guidelines for specifying what type of learners and what volume of learners you will train:
Procedures for Conducting a Learner Analysis
The most common methods
for conducting learner analyses are these:
Guidelines for Selecting Sample Learners
There are two main
guidelines for selecting sample learners for your learner analysis.
1: Quality and Usefulness of Learner Information Relative
Determine how many different audiences you have (for example, novice/experienced/advanced; different job titles; different organizational levels) and consult learners, one at a time, until you do not appear to be accumulating significantly new and different information from additional subjects.
A Tool for Choosing What Information to Gather
The information you
should collect during your learner analysis is listed below.
By incorporating the
guidelines provided for specifying your learner populations and selecting
sample learners following the procedures given for conducting a Learner
Analysis and gathering the information listed above, you should be well
on your way to performing a Learner Analysis that will assist dramatically
in maintaining a learner-centered focus in your instructional design.
Talent Management is a monthly magazine directed to top-level management, senior human resources, and workforce and organizational development executives whose task is to optimize the abilities of their human assets to drive and improve the execution of enterprise strategy. Harold Stolovitch is the regular "Human Performance" columnist for Talent Management magazine. You can read his latest article, "What To Do About Performance Troublemakers " by visiting page 10 of the October 2008 digtial edition at http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mediatec/tm1008/. For more information on Talent Management, visit their Website at www.talentmgt.com. If there are any topics that you would like Harold to address in his column, please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our Guest Author Series
features articles by various professional colleagues. The latest in our
series is by Carol Haig, CPT. Carol leads Carol Haig & Associates,
a consulting firm that helps organizations improve performance by aligning
the work, the worker and the workplace to meet business goals. To learn
more about her work, contact Carol by telephone at 925- 934-5338 or by
email at email@example.com,
or visit her website at http://home.mindspring.com/~carolhaig.
What if you had just five minutes to conduct a needs analysis? And, you had to do it over the phone, without observing the environment or anyone in it? Oh, and you had to build rapport and trust while simultaneously entering the information you gathered into an electronic call record? And you had to do this for four consecutive hours? Every week!
Welcome to a community crisis center where trained volunteers answer the phones 24/7, fielding requests for help and information from a cross-section of county residents. Supported by an extensive resource database, knowledgeable staff, colleagues, and their own life skills and experience, volunteers have to be ready for anything. Indeed, calls can be about whatever is troubling the caller-from questions about local government services to requests for rental assistance, drug abuse treatment, counseling services and homeless shelters to help with bereavement issues, mental illness, and suicide. Sometimes, the caller just needs to talk.
Most calls last less than 20 minutes, which means that the volunteer conducts a needs analysis at light speed. Like the analysis challenge in the workplace, ensuring that all needs are identified is the goal. However, because a life may be at risk, it is critical not to miss anything. The caller may be distressed, confused, disorganized, in danger, or unable to articulate a clear problem or request for help.
In addition, callers may not be native speakers of English, lack basic communication skills, and may be drunk, on drugs, or belligerent. They can be of any age. Often, their experiences in the world and their views of society differ greatly from those of the volunteer on the phone. To bridge the divide and help the caller, a solid grounding in the skills we use for a workplace needs analysis is an invaluable bonus for the volunteer. It is a small, but rather dramatic, step from the corporate client who is reluctant to spend time on analysis to the time crunch that comes with every hotline call.
Fortunately, the hotline environment encourages the jettisoning of politically correct (PC) business interaction. While initially uncomfortable, volunteers quickly learn to appreciate the license to ask all the highly non-PC questions they could never consider in the workplace: "What is the source of your income?" "And exactly what drugs are you addicted to?" "Do all six of your children have different fathers?" While it is important to gather critical information to help the caller, it is equally important to be respectful when asking questions. The combination of non-PC questions and the requisite follow-on inquiries move the analysis ahead quickly.
A real eye-opener in crisis work is that the majority of callers, particularly the regulars who phone in daily and have done so for years, struggle with multiple issues. No one, it seems, is "just" bi-polar, or obese, or unemployed, or living on the streets; they are likely to be facing a combination or even all of these challenges. So how are callers helped?
As we know from our experiences with workplace needs analyses, helping the client organize all the issues and then deciding which one(s) to address for the biggest potential payoff, is often the best course of action. On the hotline, volunteers apply a triage technique to help callers decide how to leverage their most critical issue(s) for results likely to mitigate some or all of the other concerns. Referring the caller to a full-service homeless shelter that provides counseling, health, and employment support, for example, could be the most effective overall solution.
The mission of a crisis center is to save lives and keep people safe. Suicidal callers often receive the greatest benefit from respectful but direct probing into their circumstances: "You say you want to kill yourself. Do you have a plan?" "Have you attempted suicide in the past?" "What happened?" "Have you ever been diagnosed with depression or a mental illness?" "Where are you right now?" With critical information collected through careful questioning, the volunteer can usually help the suicidal caller to identify a reason to continue living and formulate a strategy for both short and long-term survival.
Needs analysis is
the responsibility of everyone in a leadership role; it is not the exclusive
territory of the performance improvement practitioner. Leaders conduct
needs analyses and choose solutions every day. From responding to a massive
disaster like September 11, to helping one caller on a crisis hotline,
needs analysis skills are invaluable. Where can you put yours to work?
We're always looking for articles to include in our Guest Author Series. If you have one that you would like us to consider, whether it be new or previously published, please contact Erica Keeps at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recently back from our latest river cruise through Provence (this one makes three in Europe in less than a year!), we realized that cruising is becoming addictive! What could be more pleasant than cruising along in your floating hotel exploring new places with old friends and new. Our latest voyage was with Amadeus Waterways, specialists in river cruising in Europe. We embarked in Lyon, France and disembarked in Arles, France seven days later.
Cruising is a time to unwind and enjoy not working; admire the countryside and calm and serene rivers. Traveling through the wine county requires tasting its products and learning about the viniculture that has been an occupation and tradition for thousands of years. How civilized and pleasant to sip a glass of Chateauneuf-du-Pape as you take the opportunity to meditate on past activities while making resolutions for the future. How wonderful it is to relax with friends and colleagues and discuss topics and themes that we rarely have time to consider because of all the "fire fighting" we are subjected to daily. All in all, a combination of personal and professional renewal.
Harold Stolovitch will present Training Ain't Performance on October 16, 2008 and conduct his Systematic Course Development Workshop from November 18 - 20, 2008 for the ASTD Los Angeles Chapter in Los Angeles, CA. Click here to view HSA's Events Calendar to learn where and when Harold will be speaking as well as to read session descriptions.
Due to popular demand, Harold will be the principal speaker and facilitator at ASTD's Telling Ain't Training Mini-Conference on October 21 & 22 in Chicago, IL and on November 6 & 7 in Arlington, VA. Click here for more information.
you have any burning Human Performance Technology questions? Visit the
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