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Needs Assessment A Mini-workshop on Needs Assessment Conducted by: Thomas E. Grayson, Ph.D. (2002). A Mini-workshop on needs assessment. Assessment of.

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Presentation on theme: "Needs Assessment A Mini-workshop on Needs Assessment Conducted by: Thomas E. Grayson, Ph.D. (2002). A Mini-workshop on needs assessment. Assessment of."— Presentation transcript:

1 Needs Assessment A Mini-workshop on Needs Assessment Conducted by: Thomas E. Grayson, Ph.D. (2002). A Mini-workshop on needs assessment. Assessment of Programs and Services in Student Affairs (APSSA). Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs. Champaign, Illinois

2 Goals of Workshop  Long Term: To enable you to conduct useful needs assessments that inform and lead to action that will improve programs, services, organizational structure and operations.  Short Term: To enable you to understand the nature and purpose of needs assessment and to help you acquire a basic understanding of how to conduct a needs assessment.

3 Broadbased definitions of a Needs Assessment  A process for identifying the knowledge and skills necessary for achieving organizational goals (Brinkerhof & Gill, 1994).  A method of finding out the nature and extent of performance problems and how they can be solved (Molenda, Pershing, & Reigeluth, 1996).

4 Broadbased definitions of a Needs Assessment  A process for pinpointing reasons for gaps in performance or a method for identifying new and future performance needs (Gupta, 1999).  A systematic approach to identifying social problems, determining their extent, and accurately defining the target population to be served and the nature of their service needs (Rossi, P. H., Freeman, H. E., & Lipsey, Mark, W. L., 1998).

5 A few important terms zGap – A gap is the difference between what is and what should be. (what results are) vs. (what results should be) zKnowledge – Knowledge is what people need to know, such as subject matter, concepts, or facts, in order to do a job. zSkills or Abilities – Skills or abilities are what people must know in order to perform a job. zCompetencies – Competencies are the knowledge, skills, attitudes, values, motivation, and beliefs people must have in order to be successful in a job. zUnmet needs – NAs are predicated on the assumption that groups of people have needs that are not being met or addressed adequately. When people are aware of such needs, the awareness is often expressed as demands. When they are not aware, the needs are said to be latent. NAs seek to uncover unmet needs, both recognized and latent.

6 Need as noun Need as noun refers to the discrepancy or gap between a present state “what is,” and a desired end state “what should be” ( Witkin, B. R., & Altschuld 1995 ) or between the actual and the ideal ( Kaufman, R ). The need is neither the present nor the future state; it is the gap between them. In a sense, a need is the problem or issue of concern. Witkin, B. R., & Altschuld, J. W., (1995). Planning and conducting needs assessments: A practical guide. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications Kaufman, R., (1992). Strategic planning plus: An organizational guide. Newbury Park, CA: Sage

7 Need as verb Need as verb points to what is required or desired (Witkin, B. R., & Altschuld 1995) or what is necessary (Scriven, 1999) to fill the discrepancy (i.e., solutions, means to an end). Witkin, B. R., & Altschuld, J. W., (1995). Planning and conducting needs assessments: A practical guide. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications Scriven, M., (1999). Needs Assessment: concepts and practical tools. An evaluation workshop conducted at The Evaluators’ Institute, Washington, DC., July 18, 1999

8 Diagnostic Definition of Need A need is anything essential for a satisfactory mode of existence or level of performance. In other words, needs are tied to what’s indispensable, that is, necessary. Scriven, M., (1999). Needs Assessment: concepts and practical tools. An evaluation workshop conducted at The Evaluators’ Institute, Washington, DC., July 18, 1999

9 Needs vs. Wants & Preferences Diagnostic needs are in some sense “necessary,” whereas wants are “desired” or “preferred.” Wants are felt and conscious. They are just preferences, unless, of course, they also happen to be a need. Wants are malleable, opinions, wishes, etc. Scriven, M., (1999). Needs Assessment: concepts and practical tools. An evaluation workshop conducted at The Evaluators’ Institute, Washington, DC., July 18, 1999

10 Performance Need vs. Treatment Need The distinction between “performance” needs and “treatment” needs is important (Scriven, 1999). When we say that international students need to be able to read English, we are talking about a needed level of performance (a gap exists). When we say they need classes in reading, or instruction in the phonics approach to reading, we are talking about treatment (a solution).

11 So, what is a needs assessment? …a systematic set of procedures undertaken for the purpose of setting priorities and making decisions about program or organizational improvement and allocation of resources. The priorities are based on identified needs (Witkin & Altschuld, 1995, p. 4).

12 Assessing student needs is the process of determining the presence or absence of the factors and conditions, resources, services, and learning opportunities that students need in order to meet their education goals and objectives within the context of an institution’s mission (Upcraft and Schuh, 1996). So, what is a needs assessment?

13 Purposes of a needs assessment For professionals in Student Affairs, a needs assessment is especially useful in the justification of program policy. Another important purpose is to examine an expressed need and develop alternatives to address it. Schuh, J., Upcraft, L., & Associates. (2001). Assessment practice in student affairs: An applications manual. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass

14 Purpose of a Needs Assessment  To generate ideas and document perceptions about various issues (exploratory in nature)  To collect information to support likely alternatives (decision making)  To estimate relative acceptability of various alternatives (identifies potentially controversial issues)  To select the most acceptable policy or program from alternatives (allows stakeholders to influence institutional response to needs)  To determine whether needs have been met (documents effectiveness of unit) Schuh, J., Upcraft, L., & Associates. (2001). Assessment practice in student affairs: An applications manual. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass

15 What will a needs assessment do for you? A needs assessment answers questions about the social conditions a program is intended to address and the need for the program. Needs assessment may also be used to determine whether there is a need for a new program and to compare or prioritize needs within and across program areas. Rossi, P. H., Freeman, H. E., & Lipsey, Mark, W. L., (1998). Evaluation: A systematic approach, (6th Edition). Sage Publications

16 Assessing the Need for a Program or Service Evaluation Questions will address:  The nature of the social problem or issue the program is expected to ameliorate  The needs of the population experiencing that problem Rossi, P. H., Freeman, H. E., & Lipsey, Mark, W. L., (1998). Evaluation: A systematic approach, (6th Edition). Sage Publications

17 Key Factors in Conducting NAs  Keep in mind the value and necessity of broad- based participation by stakeholders.  Choose appropriate means of gathering information about critical issues and other data.  Recognize core values in the group whose needs are being assessed. Witkin, B. R., & Altschuld, J. W., (1995). Planning and conducting needs assessments: A practical guide. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications

18 Key Factors in Conducting NAs  Needs assessment is a participatory process; it is not “done to people.”  Needs assessment is a political activity. Some people may view the process as causing a loss of control. Priorities derived may be counter to entrenched ideas in the system.  Data gathering methods by themselves are not a needs assessment. Data collection is but one component in the process. Witkin, B. R., & Altschuld, J. W., (1995). Planning and conducting needs assessments: A practical guide. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications

19 Assessing student needs is the process of determining the presence or absence of the factors and conditions, resources, services, and learning opportunities that students need in order to meet their education goals and objectives within the context of an institution’s mission (Upcraft and Schuh, 1996). Once again, what is a needs assessment?

20 Where should we focus the needs assessment?  Focus on the ends to be attained, rather than the means. This means we must know where we want to go…mission, goals & outcomes (Witkin & Altschuld, 1995).  Institutions should narrow their focus and use their assets to advance their mission, rather than to broaden their focus and dilute what they do best (Schuh, Upcraft & Associates, 2001).

21 Target Groups & Level of Need  Level 1: (primary) – the focus is on service receivers: students, clients, patients, information users, etc.  Level 2: (secondary) – the focus is on service providers and policy makers: teachers, parents, administrators, caseworkers, professional staff, support staff, etc.  Level 3: (tertiary) – the focus is on resources or solutions: buildings, facilities, equipment, supplies, technology, programs, delivery systems, working conditions, time allocations, etc. Witkin, B. R., & Altschuld, J. W., (1995). Planning and conducting needs assessments: A practical guide. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications

22 Three-Phase Plan for Conducting a Needs Assessment zPhase 1 - Pre-assessment (exploration) zPhase 2 - Assessment (data gathering) zPhase 3 - Post-assessment (utilization) Witkin, B. R., & Altschuld, J. W., (1995). Planning and conducting needs assessments: A practical guide. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications

23 Needs Assessment Tools 1)Surveys 2)Questionnaires 3)Interviewing 4)Focus Groups 5)Observations 6)Performance Measures a)Ranking b)Grading c)Scoring d)Rating

24 Needs Assessment - Conclusion Needs assessment is an essential tool in making sure that the programs that are offered are needed and that new interventions will meet an unaddressed need of students and other clients. Unless systematic needs assessments are conducted, precious resources are wasted addressing problems that do not exist. Schuh, J., Upcraft, L., & Associates. (2001). Assessment practice in student affairs: An applications manual. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass

25 Needs Assessment Process (Final Thoughts)  First focus…either performance needs or treatment needs…level 1, 2 or 3  Needs assessment is an inquiry tool. The process must be flexible and must look for the facts.  Look for needs, not wants.  Look for failure data or fault data, then look for treatment data and comparative data.  Ask the client to compare: “Tell me, how do you compare this to another experience.”  Direct approach: Ask, “What do you think? How does it look to you?”  Indirect approach: Ask, “What do you think others think?”  More needs assessment fail probably because of inadequate data presentation than for any other reason.  Use mixed methods…both quantitative and qualitative, when possible.


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