The first step of developing effective training is to perform some type of analysis.  According to Chuck Hodell (ISD From the Ground Up:  A No-Nonsense Approach to Instructional Design) The analysis phase of instructional design is used to answer questions such as:

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  1. What is the need?
  2. What is the root cause?
  3. What are the goals of training?
  4. How will the training be delivered?
  5. How will the training be structured and organized?

With the quick pace of business, the analysis phase is often ignored. Organizations will jump right into developing training before they have even identified what the need was, or if training was needed at all. The results are, just as often, poor design, lack of clear objectives and ineffective training outcomes. So a good rule, is plan first, then do.  A simple tool that can be used to quickly gather information for analysis is surveys.

A Recent Project

Towson University Continuing & Professional Studies worked with the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals (NAWDP) to create a survey to gather data which would guide curriculum creation for a Workforce Professionals Leadership Academy.  Using an online survey tool we will distribute the survey to more than 1,000 targeted recipients.  The online survey service instantly tabulates and organizes response data that we used to analyze the needs of Workforce Development Professionals.

Using Surveys Correctly

I know you are probably excited to get started on your first training needs survey, but take caution! The survey will only be as effective as you make it.  A few questions to consider:

  • What types of questions are appropriate?  Should there be open-ended questions or quantifiable questions?
  • Which questions should be included in the survey? Be selective, not all questions can or should make the final cut.
  • Are the questions clear?  Test. Send the survey to three or four people and ask for comments about question clarity and selections for closed-ended questions.
  • How will you introduce the survey to those you need to take it?  Survey participants should understand why they are taking the survey and what the information will be used for.
  • What type of survey is best for your organization?  Online survey tools are typically easy to use and have a lot of great features, but if workers do not have access to a computer, other techniques (telephone interviews, focus groups, and paper surveys) may be appropriate.