|Type of paper:||Research paper|
|Categories:||Learning Strategy Students Community Human development|
Conducting needs assessments is one of how an organization or a community can understand the gaps that exist in their current system of operation and design means of combating these shortcomings to be more efficient in their operations. The methods of conducting needs assessments vary according to the reasons behind their initiation. The two main assessment techniques used in our study were formal and informal needs assessments. The purpose of conducting these assessments was to design ways in which to improve adult learning programs in the community. As such, we compared and contrasted the two assessment methods to find the most fitting programs to institute.
Of essence in the conducting of the assessment needs is understanding the composition of the community and the stakeholders involved in the intended program. The community is composed of both primary and secondary stakeholders who both have their significant roles to play in making the program successful. The primary stakeholders, in this case, were the people directly involved in and wishing to enroll themselves in the adult education program. These formed the backbone of our study as they were the people who understood the various gaps in the existing program and who were more capable of giving the most insights about the program. This included the trainers and their subjects as well as the staff members and the immediate members of the community that in one way or another are involved even remotely to the project. The secondary stakeholders, on the other hand, included the members of the larger community with no direct involvement with the program including local and religious leaders among others. Although both groups are instrumental in the development of an all-inclusive and successful program, each of them might find themselves looking after their interests as opposed to that of the general population. The primary stakeholders, for instance, might find themselves demanding the fulfillment of their own needs in a while disregarding the impact of their inclusion to the general community. On the other hand, the secondary stakeholders might also find themselves opposing opinions that they perceive to be non-beneficial to them even though they may be useful to the primary stakeholder ("Needs Assessment - Evaluation", 2019). Such a conflict would slow down the progress in the designing and implementation of the program, and as such the team would have to find a means of reaching a compromise fast to avoid delays when such instances occur.
In developing the comprehensive assessment, the study involved structured assessment techniques through the use of tools such as questionnaires to collect information on the specific needs of the community in regards to the adult learning programs. These would give the most specific insights as understood by the designers of the program to be necessary to implement within the program if it is going to be more successful than it already has been in the past. The assessment would be handed over to both the primary and secondary stakeholders to fill, collecting their views and opinions as well as asking them to suggest means of improving the program further. The main advantage of employing this technique is that it would give us a detailed and comprehensive view of the overall satisfaction with the existing program (Lester, 1981).
Non-formal assessment techniques were also used in the exercise. These included methods such as holding discussions with the stakeholders to gain more insights into the specific needs as they wish to be implemented. Observation of how the community treats or views the implementation of the adult program was also employed as well as informal interviews with the members of the larger community.
The similarities between the two methods used include the ability to gain unbiased information in regard to the program. The two approaches would also enable the team to connect more with the general community, improving our knowledge of the needs of the general society, and thus making it possible to design a more inclusive program (Lester, 1981).
The main difference between the structured and free-form techniques was in the speed in which the information could be collected. While the free-form approach to assessment allowed for the collection of a large volume of information within a short time frame, the structured approach was much slower due to the technicalities involved. Furthermore, the free-form approach allowed the team to gain insights that were not captured in the structured form. On the other hand, the structured approach afforded the involved stakeholders more privacy and thus a higher score when it comes to business ("Chapter 3. Assessing Community Needs and Resources | Section 7. Conducting Needs Assessment Surveys | Main Section | Community Tool Box", 2019).
The designing of adult training programs in the community requires both the use of structured and free-form approaches to gain more insight into the needs of the stakeholders in the community. Though both approaches lead to the collection of information in regards to the overall goals, they both have similarities and differences that may impact the accuracy and subsequent success of the implemented program. The two approaches are however necessary in assessing the needs of the society and developing a program to suit the interests of all the stakeholders in the community.
Chapter 3. Assessing Community Needs and Resources | Section 7. Conducting Needs Assessment Surveys | Main Section | Community Tool Box. (2019). Retrieved from https://ctb.ku.edu/en/table-of-contents/assessment/assessing-community-needs-and-resources/conducting-needs-assessment-surveys/main
Lester, R. (1981). Training Research: Identification of Training Needs. IEEE Engineering Management Review, 9(1), 15-18. doi: 10.1109/emr.1981.4306865
Needs Assessment - Evaluation. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/evaluation/needs-assessment-1
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