EPD - Instructor Resources - Front-End Analysis
EPD Instructor Resources
The first step in creating any course or training is to conduct various appropriate front-end analyses in order to determine the who, what, how, and why of the course, module, or program. In some cases, some of this analysis has already been completed by the time it reaches the instructor. Below are a few types of analyses often conducted as part of the instructional design and development process.
What is front-end analysis?
Front-end analysis, as the name applies, takes place at the beginning of a project, and depending on entry point, involves a series of possible analyses:
- Problem: Is there a problem? What is it?
- Needs: Is there a need for training or should some other solution be employed?
- Audience/Learner: What are the skills, knowledge, and attitudes (SKAs) of the target audience?
- Job: What tasks make up the job? Which are most important?
- Task: What does each task entail?
- Content: What information must I/should I impart?
There are many methods and tools used in various analyses. Some techniques used for analysis include:
- Direct observation
- Interviews, focus groups or questionnaires (important to verify with direct observation and document review)
- Documentation reviews (operational procedures, manuals, job descriptions, etc.)
- Heuristic evaluation
- Systematic Outlines
- Identification of gaps or task using lists and prioritization
- Procedural analysis
- Develop list of learner prerequisites for module or course
It is sometimes possible to reduce or eliminate various analyses steps depending on the point at which the instructor is involved, for example, sometimes certain types of the front-end analysis are not necessary since the instructional need may have already been identified by a curriculum committee or other parties. With front-end analysis methods, it is important to remember that they have been developed to help identify various aspects of a problem or instructional need, and to focus the content and resulting instructional products.
It is useful to note that the initial analysis phase is important when designing any product, and spending time up-front can provide time and cost savings in the other phases, as well as provide great improvements in the resulting instructional product. It is never recommended to skip any steps in the instructional design & development process, but there are modifications, tips and tricks that can be used to shuttle the process along.
Needs Analysis & Learner Analysis
There are four primary components addressed during needs analysis.
- Audience: Who is the target audience for the proposed course/module?
- Current Roles: What do members of this target audience currently do in their job roles?
- Knowledge Gaps: What gaps exist between what the intended audience knows how to do, and what they need to know to carry out their job more successfully?
- Outcome: Will this lesson, module, or course help fill this gap?
- What is needs analysis?
- Needs analysis overview
Job and Task Analysis
Many design experts agree that task analysis is considered the most important part of the instructional design process. According to Brown & Green (2006), after needs analysis is conducted, task analysis is conducted to help determine and gather information about the type of content and activities that need to be included in the instruction. Depending on the type of instruction, the task analysis will take the form of an outline or graphical representation such as a flowchart.
Task analysis helps determine the following (Johassen, Tessmer, and Hannum, 1999):
- The goals and objectives of learning
- The operational components of jobs, skills, and abilities
- The knowledge states (i.e. declarative, structural, procedural) that characterize a job or task
- Which tasks, skills, or goals should be taught
- The tasks that are most important and have highest priority
- The sequence in which tasks are performed and should be learned or taught
- How to select or design instructional activities, strategies, and techniques
- How to select the appropriate technology, media, and learning environments
- How to select and construct appropriate assessments and evaluation
Important Additional Resources
- Thiagi article on speedier methods and shortcuts for instructional design
- Performing a Task Analysis
- Deciding and Evaluating Content Requirements