The first step in any training program should be a needs assessment.  A needs assessment is a systematic exploration of the gaps between the current situation and the desired or necessary situation in relation to the issue in question.  The analysis of the current situation includes determining the present state of skills, knowledge, and abilities of the current and/or future target audiences.  This analysis also examines specific organizational goals, climate, and internal and external constraints.

The analysis of the desired or necessary situation focuses on the necessary standards for change, as well as the skills, knowledge, and abilities needed to accomplish these successfully.  It is important to identify the desired or necessary conditions for organizational and personal change, and not just observe the current practices.  A distinction must be made between the actual needs and the perceived needs, or wants.

The difference between the current and the desired or necessary situation will identify the needs, purposes, and objectives of the training program.

To facilitate a needs assessment, it might be helpful to consider the following questions:

A. What do the participants/organization want or expect from the training?
  • If there are no official expectations outlined, are you as the facilitator clear about what is expected of you?  Take into account varying expectations within the same group of people/organization.
  • Is a specific group being addressed? (this allows the facilitator to access the distinctive professional culture which surrounds each particular audience)
B. What administrative support and materials are already available?
  • Are there other sources of help to consider or is the facilitator responsible for taking care of logistics?

C. What do the participants know?

  • Has a needs assessment already been done (e.g. a report from a previous training workshop)?
  • Can you visit any of the participants in their workplace to get a better assessment of their self-defined training needs? Is additional research required here?
D. What does the facilitator know?
  • What is the facilitator’s perspective before preparing for the workshop?
  • What reference materials are to be consulted (local/national/international)?
  • Are there previous workshop agendas/reports or research findings?
  • What literature should be addressed? (written/electronic; published/gray)
  • What videos and resource materials might be consulted?
  • What materials (if any) are already available within the organization?
  • Which local experts might be usefully consulted?
  • What is the facilitator’s perspective after preparing for the workshop?

E.  What are the goals and objectives of the training program in terms of:

  • The desired changes in knowledge, skills and attitudes of the participants, and how to assess whether the goals/objectives have been achieved?
  • The concepts developed and recorded and materials produced for use at future workshops (e.g. training manuals or toolkits), and/or newsletter or journal articles, brochures, etc.

These questions will also help the facilitator contextualize the training program to the local situation.  The more that the facilitator can demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the details of the local situation the more the participants are likely to value what the he/she says.  Needs assessment is crucial to adapting of training, especially if either the facilitator or the training program comes from a different culture or country.

Goals and Objectives  |  Guidelines for Developing a Training Program

| Home | Contact | Feedback | Disclaimer |

Copyright © 2003 Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights.
Permission is granted to use this material for non-commercial purposes. Please use proper attribution.