Module 1 Needs Assessment of the Student


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Learning Objectives for Needs Assessment

Think about inviting a group of people over for dinner. If you were to just decide what to cook for them without making sure that not one of them has an allergy to what you are cooking, or whether one of them is just recovered from illness, then your dinner party will have problems with last minute arrangements and could produce smells or odors that are offensive to the recently ill person or the one with the allergies. This would be highly inconsiderate.

Many courses, training programs, and even public health projects fail because the target audience, the students, or the trainees were not profiled for their actual particular needs. The planning would then be missing the criteria for designing learning objectives in a manner that promotes students control of their learning. As you study this webpage, consider more questions, which you could ask to get a complete understanding of your students in relation to the course they will be taking.

By the end of this Module, the teacher will be able to:
  1. List prerequisite education required for student entry into the program
  2. Identify any other knowledge and skills that the student is expected to have prior to start of the course?
  3. Determine the information that the student needs about the materials, supplies, and equipment for the course.
  4. Identify the communication structure of your course and what the student needs to know about it.


Needs assessment is about knowing the core components of the curriculum, the list of information that the new student needs, and at least a rough idea of how the teacher will handle the curriculum during the process of teaching. We should never forget that the goal of teaching is giving the student the information and skills to take control of the learning.

Needs means needed knowledge and skills.

For example, just think about finding a site to build a house. What is the most important first question? If you think about it, wouldn't it be that the type of house that can be built with the finances and resources that are available; the kind of terrain and other environmental features of the location; and the architects, builders and other people involved in building the house. Once we begin to analyze this list of factors and people, we can come up with dozens of variations that could turn out great, fine or terrible.

The best site is stable with good water and sunlight and easy drainage management. It would also have access to electricity. What about the architect, building contractor, financial manager, and building inspector? The more we think about it the more important it gets to get detailed information as early as possible before signing any contracts or putting down any cash. Just how sure would you want to be if you had all that responsibility.

If you are teacher, you are probably thinking that you are used to such detail. Try not to cut corners thinking that you already know. Figure out a few open-ended questions to ask the students, which can help you elicit some useful information as you tell them the course requirements.At this point of the process of building the course, there some topics to consider as you collect the needed information.

The Problem

Aligning the goals, objectives and student needs and the resources needed to meet them.

What is to be Learned

Pre-requisite knowledge and skills in relationship to the course goals, objectives,required study skills,and self-discipline

The Student

Step 1: Define: Age, sex, matrimony, parents,
Step 2: Educational History
Step 3: Describe the type of work / profession they do?

:What kinds of learner abilities are required?

Capable of working independently
Particular physical capabilities
Certain level of intelligence to analyze information or to philosophize
Prior knowledge and work experience
Motivation to communicate and collaborate or join physical activities
Computer skills

The Context

Course: What subject is being taught and what does it require to master it? ====
Here in reference to Needs Assessment an instructor needs to see the gap between what the courses requires and what the student is capable of learning.

What are the Pre-requisites for the Course?

Step 1. List the Pre-requisites for your course.

Step 2. Describe students who must meet those pre-requisites.


  • Student body is often a mix of married, unmarried, divorced, and parents
  • Some students are doing research, running a clinic, or have a private office
  • What is the Educational Level of your course? In reference to that, who should be your students?
  • Average education is often equivalent to Master or Doctorate level depending on actual education and experience. Some students have only a Bachelor’s Degree and work experience

Teacher: What do teachers need to know about how the students can master the subject? ====
Different ages, profession, cultures all have an effect on how we learn. So when analyzing the students profiles, it is good to get a clear idea about character, gender, age and as some open-ended questions to get an idea about their individual concerns about starting the course.

Suggested Resources

Book Shambaugh, R., Magliaro, S. Mastering The Possibilities, A Process Approach to Instructional design


A great website video lecture on design of needs assessment can be found at:

This is a brief introduction to David M. Merrill PhD thoughts about instructional design, which gives us much to think about in our fast media-driven world..

Discussion Questions

  1. What are the most important characteristics of the course that you want to teach?
  1. Describe the students for your course.
  1. What knowledge or skill are required prior to taking your course?

Journal Questions

  1. Why do you want to teach this course?
  1. What kind of people (students) would you be most comfortable with?