Introduction to ISD Analysis
Analysis is the study we do in order to figure out what to do — Allison Rossett & Kendra Sheldon (2001)
The analysis phase is the foundation of a learning or training process. The analysis phase is the foundation of a learning or training process. It determines if a learning solution is required to solve a business problem.
The deliverables of this phase are the building blocks for all subsequent design and development activities. It accomplishes this by discovering:
- Desired business need or result
- If a learning process will fulfill the desired business need
- Performance requirements that supports desired Business Outcome
- What must be learned
- The standards of performance
- How the learning process will occur
- Who needs to improve their performance
Note that the steps (see the top of the left-hand column) in this version of the Analysis Phase differs slightly from the original version of ISD or ADDIE. Although the steps may differ, they provide updated analysis and design techniques that were unavailable when the ADDIE model was first introduced in 1975.
This analysis phase is sometimes called a Front-End Analysis in that while you normally perform some type of analysis throughout the entire ISD process, this “front end” of the ISD process is where the main problem identification is performed, such as identifying the problem, analyzing the job and selecting the tasks to train (U.S. Army Field Artillery School, 1984)
It includes both a Training Needs Analysis (TNA) and a Needs Assessment.
The TNA is performed to see if a learning or training solution will solve a business problem (Tovey, 1997). Managers will often call a performance problem a training problem. Thus you must ensure that learning or training solution will fix the problem or is other solution is needed.
A Needs Assessment is performed to determine and articulate the business unit or customer's learning, training, and performance needs (DeSimone, Werner, 2012).
When performing an analysis, it is best to take an approach to ensure the performance improvement (training, learning process, etc.) ties in with the result that the business unit want:
Result - What impact (outcome) will improve our business?
Performance - What do the employees have to perform in order to create the desired impact?
Learning - What knowledge, skills, and resources do they need in order to perform? (courses or classrooms are the LAST answer, see Selecting the Instructional Setting)
Motivation - What do they need to perceive in order to learn and perform? (Do they see a need for the desired performance?)
As the next section shows, you can easily check to see if your solution to the four planning steps are correct.
As the chart below shows, you can easily check to see if your backwards planning model is correct by evaluating the results when the plan is put into action — this is known as circular causality. Start at the top left-hand corner and then follow the arrows.
Notice that each effect on a event effects the next one, which has an effect-cause-effect that loops back upon the original event. When you reach the last arrow, the white one, you should have reached the result or impact you were looking for. If not, then you will have to troubleshoot your plan, correct it, and then repeat the process.
The backwards planning model is based on Kirkpatrick's Four Levels of Evaluations that have been linked to what is known as the Four Performance Analysis Needs. (Phillips, Phillips, 2002):
Charts 2 and 3, as shown below, shows how the two concepts are linked together and the primary questions that must be answered to complete the analysis:
The Four Performance Analysis Needs are discussed below.
To determine the business need, investigate the problem or performance initiative to see how it supports the mission statement, leader's vision, and/or organizational goals. Fixing a problem or making a process better is just as good as a Return on Investment (ROI), if not better. Organizations that focus strictly on ROI are normally focusing on cost-cutting. And you can only cut costs so much before you start stripping out the core parts of a business. A much better approach is to improve a performance or process that supports a key organization goal, vision, or mission.
When senior executives were asked the most important training initiatives, 77% cited, “aligning learning strategies with business goals”; 75% cited, “ensuring learning content meets workforce requirements”; and 72% said, “boosting productivity and agility” (Training Magazine, 2004). Thus, senior leaders are not looking at training to be a profit center (that is what other business units are for), rather they are looking at performance improvement initiatives to help grow the organization so that it can reach its goals and perform its mission.
This analysis looks at the job performance needed to solve the business need by asking, “What do the workers need to perform in order to meet the desired business need?” This can best be accomplished by finding the gap between the present performance and the desired future performance, you then creating a solution to fix it.
This is perhaps the most important need to look at as it links the performer with the organization. When analyzing job performance, you want to look at the entire spectrum that surrounds the job: processes, environment, actual performance verses needed performance, etc, thus, it often helps to divide the analysis into three groups: people, data, and things. If you only look at what they need to learn and then perform, then you might miss obstacles that will impede their performance, such as poor processes or environmental roadblocks.
As you assess the performance for any needed interventions, look at the Job/Performer requirements, that is, what does the performer needs to know and do in order for the performance intervention to be successful? In addition, look at how you are going to evaluate any learning requirements (level 2). It is one thing to determine the needs of the performers (such as skill, knowledge, & their self-system [attitude, metacognition, etc.]), but it is quite another thing to ensure that those requirements actually take place.
In addition, the Learning Needs also include performance aids or tools used in place of learning. For example, rather than memorizing a list of steps to perform, provide them a checklist, such as paper or electronic. This reduces the amount of time needed for training and helps to speed up the time for actual performance.
The Individual Needs align with Kirkpatrick's Reaction (see chart 1 above). However, Kirkpatrick's Reaction was mostly concerned with the level of the learner's happiness with the learning program.
What this stage really needs is to ensure that the performance intervention (learning process) actually conforms to the individual requirements.
For example, in the Training Needs analysis it might be determined that the job holders need to learn a new process. In this need assessment, the target population is looked at more closely to determine the actual content, context, and delivery method of the performance intervention that will best fit their needs. The goal is to ensure that the intended learners see the real worth of the learning program. If you and their managers cannot convince them that they need to learn the new tasks (motivation), then they will probably never learn to to perform correctly or once they complete the learning program, they will probably not put their newly learned skills and knowledge to full use. Note that I highlighted “and their managers” as people will most often perform what their managers expect them to do, while forgetting what the managers least emphasize.
Thus the individual needs are the foundation of the Four Needs:
A study by the National Center on the Educational Quality of the Workforce at the University of Pennsylvania found that a dollar invested by a company in education was more than twice as effective in boosting the firm's productivity as a dollar invested in new machinery —Task Force of the Human Resource Development.
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Bassi, L., McMurrer, D. (2007). Maximizing Your Return on People. Harvard Business Review, March 2007, Reprint R0703H.
DeSimone, R.L., Werner, J.M. (2012). Human Resource Development. Mason, Ohio: South-Western College Pub.
Phillips, J., Phillips, P. (2002). Reasons Why Training & Development Fails... and What You Can Do About It. Training Magazine, September 2002, pp.78-85.
U.S. Army Field Artillery School (1984). A System Approach To Training (Course Student textbook). ST - 5K061FD92.
Rossett, A., Sheldon, K. (2001). Beyond the Podium: Delivering Training and Performance to a Digital World. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer, p.67.
Tovey, M.D. (1997). Training in Australia. Sydney: Prentice Hall of Australia.
Task Force of the Human Resource Development (2001). Are You Getting the Results You Need? In Getting Results Through Learning. University of North Texas Libraries and the U.S. Government Printing Office. Retrieved November 15, 2010 from http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/npr/library/book/results.htm