Analyze Instructional Needs

Several steps are involved in the instructional design process and might occur in a different order from the summary shown below. The typical order begins with an analysis of instructional needs for the learning context, the learners, and the learning tasks.

Analysis of Learning Context

For the learning context analysis, two main aspects include a needs assessment and a description of the instructional environment. The needs assessment helps determine IF there is a need to develop new instruction. This assessment might be formal or informal but is very important. This is the time to ask questions:

  • Should resources be allocated to develop new resources?
  • Are there existing materials that will take care of the need for new curricula?
  • Would some of the existing curricula be worth retaining while only parts of it need to be developed?   

It is also the time to plan your summative evaluation, which will show that you attained the goals you created based on the needs assessment. By looking ahead through the full cycle involved in developing materials or services, you can anticipate some “bumps” along the road as you design, produce, implement, and evaluate your product.

The designer also needs to describe the instructional environment.

  • What is the role of the teacher or trainer?
  • How does he/she view the learning process?
  • How much experience does the instructor have?
  • What type of technology is available and is preferred?
  • What are the characteristics of the facility and the school system itself?
  • How will the new curricula fit the culture of the instructional environment?

Analysis of Learners

One of the most important aspects of instructional design is understanding the learner, or user, of the product. Four aspects of learner traits are important:

  1. Cognitive (how learners take in and process information; how much prior information learners have).
  2. Physiological (senses through which the learner learns best, health, and age).
  3. Affective (interests, motivation, attitude toward learning, self-concept, beliefs, etc.).
  4. Social (how the learner relates to peers and teachers, socioeconomic background, racial/ethnic background, etc.).

Analysis of Learning Tasks

Based on the understanding of the learning context and of the learners themselves, the designer writes objectives and goals for the needed learning. Learning outcomes are written and guide the process which includes assessment and evaluation tied to assessment.

  • Did the learner attain the understanding required?