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 training program. The products of this phase are the building blocks for all subsequent design and development activities. It accomplishes this by determining:
- Performance requirements
- What must be learned
- The standards of performance
- How the learning process will occur
- Who will be trained
- Where the training will take place
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 still provide the same critical information as the original versions, while providing newer instructional design techniques than were unavailable when the ADDIE model was first introduced.
The analysis phase is often called a Front-End Analysis. Although you might perform analysis throughout the ISD process, such as in the design and development phases, this “front end” of the ISD process is where the main problem identification is performed, such as analyzing the job and selecting the tasks to train (U.S. Army Field Artillery School, 1984).
During the Front-End Analysis 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 that ensures the performance improvement ties in with the organization's needs, vision, mission, and values. This connects each need with a metric to ensure that it actually does what it is supposed to do. This is best accomplished by linking performance analysis needs with the Four Levels of Evaluations to the four categories of analysis (Phillips & Phillips, 2002):
- Business Needs are linked to results
- Job Performance Needs are linked to behavior
- Training Needs are linked to learning
- Individual Needs are linked to reaction (motivation)
Linking the two will help you to plan backwards (work from top to bottom) as shown in this Backwards Planning Model (Chart 1):
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 an ROI, if not better. Organizations that focus strictly on ROI are normally focusing on cost-cutting. And you can only cut costs so far 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%, “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.
The goal is to make an impact or get a result. Once you have identified the gap between the present performance and the desired future performance, you then create a level 4 evaluation (impact) that measures it — that is, what criteria must be met in order to show that the gap has actually been bridged?
Job Performance Needs
While the first analysis looked at business needs, this analysis looks at the job performance needs by asking, “What do the workers need to perform in order to meet the desired business need?”
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 need 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, either 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 program) 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.
A Circular Causality Model for Human Performance
As the chart below shows, this method of analysis has a circular causality in that you start at the top of the left column and work your way down to the bottom to complete the analysis phase. You then switch to the bottom of the right column and work your way up to design, develop, and evaluate the learning/training program. Each row of the chart should correspond with each other (e.g., the Results should directly tie in with the Goal of, "What is our organizational to improve the business?"
Go to the next section: Business Outcome
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View the Analysis Templates (contains several analysis templates)
View the Analysis Page
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, OH.: 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.
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