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Needs or gap analysis is the process of defining the requirement of the user as far as designing an instructional systems design (ISD) to make the acquiring of knowledge as adequate, effectual and engaging as possible. It is the first step in the ISD process based on the ADDIE model. The process and outcome of the analysis of needs is greatly influenced by behavioral and cognitive psychology. The process involves the description of problems or anticipation of needs and coming up with possible solutions.
The analysis of needs is to satisfy a gap created by this need (Currie, 2004). Eventually, the assessment of design process is vital to ascertain the satisfaction of the need. This begs the question: what is satisfaction? It is acknowledging the contentment of achieving the expected or desired state. Satisfaction is highly subjective to the group in question. The assessment of satisfaction depends on the goals of the design process and the needs it set to fulfill. It is imperative to ascertain the satisfaction of the target audience by the instructional design obtained. Some of the questions that should be answered include “is the design bridging the gap previously left by the need?”
The satisfaction of the need is in great part defined by the target of the design process. Their expectations are mitigated by the possible and realistic avenues that are available. The designers in the process communicate the design and development processes to ensure that satisfaction of needs is met by the eventual design. There are several ways to evaluate the satisfaction of the target audience with the design. The most used is the Satisfaction With Life Scale (Pavot, 2008). It is in the form of a questionnaire that attempt to grade the level of satisfaction on a scale of increasingly progressive levels of satisfaction.
The process on needs analysis, being the initial step in instructional systems design, should be a thoroughly done since it defines the direction the rest of the process will take. A systematic guideline on the evaluation of needs is useful to complete this stage successfully (McArdle, 2011). Firstly, the target audience is identified to set the purpose of the needs analysis.
The second step is description of the population targeted and the environment that provides the service. There are three grades of target groups: level 1 is the direct recipients of the services; level 2 includes the service providers; and level 3 involves the resources used to input the solutions (Altschuld et al. 2000). Emphasis is placed on level 1 target groups because that is the rationale for the existence of levels 2 and 3.
The third step involves the identification of a need and generation of possible solutions. For a need to exist there is a gap between the expected and the actual. Information is gathered from the different levels, although emphasis is placed on level 1. A description of the expected outcomes is included in this step to serve as a reference point in the design process.
The fourth step is the assessment of the identified needs. Priority is set from the list of needs, which serves as a focal point. Any conflicting needs that exist are sorted out and consensus sought (Zheng, 2003). General agreement across the different levels of groups is analyzed to evaluate the importance placed on certain needs and their bearing to the subject matter. The final step is dissemination of the results to the intended audience in step one.
Altschuld, J. W., & Witkin, B. R. (2000). From needs assessment to action: Transforming needs into solution strategies. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications.
Currie, G. (January 01, 2004). Gap analysis of public transport needs: Measuring spatial distribution of public transport needs and identifying gaps in the quality of public transport provision. Transportation Research Record, 1895, 137-146.
McArdle, G. E. H. (2011). Instructional design for action learning. New York: American Management Association.
Pavot, W. G., Diener, E. (2008). The Satisfaction With Life Scale and the emerging construct of life satisfaction. Journal of Positive Psychology, 3, 137-152
Zheng, L. (2003). Teachers’ perceptions of the application of instructional design elements in the distance teaching process.