Delivering the Right Learning Experience

Have you ever gone to training and thought that it wasn’t as helpful as it could have been or that you would have grasped and retained the information if it was delivered differently?

Before an organization creates any type of training or intervention, the needs of the organization should be systematically identified. Needs assessment can be defined in several ways, but one definition that is simple yet spot-on is that needs assessment is “a tool for making better decisions” (Watkins, West, & Visser, 2012).

An example of using this type of needs assessment is found when an organization identifies a need to deliver organizational information to an audience consisting of members (e.g., staff, students, and leaders) with different needs.

The analysis might reveal that a solution consisting of a workshop utilizing multiple modalities is best for the audiences. Based on the audience, it might be best to deliver a learning experience where face to face, online, and mobile is utilized. The analysis of the assessment then results in the development of a blended experience that meets the needs of the various learners.

While this is the ideal method of creating training or solutions, often organizations skip needs assessment and create new training and interventions to address the issues they perceive to be important. However, these organizations ask for training to be developed before the proper assessment and analysis needed before the instructional designer or trainer implements solutions.

Needs assessment can guide an organization towards the right results. Determining the best method of delivering learning experiences requires using the right analytical tools (i.e., needs assessment, performance analysis, gap analysis, and needs analysis). These tools help organizations operate more effectively and efficiently.

In a future post, I’ll explore needs assessment more deeply as well as how it works, and some tools and techniques associated with it (like training needs assessment). I’ll also evaluate interventions for non-training needs.

Have you spent much time with needs assessment? What segments are you most excited to hear about?


Andriotis, N. (2019, April 15). Why you need to run a training needs assessment (and how to do it). Retrieved from

Christensen, B. (n.d.). Needs Assessment vs needs analysis: What’s the diff? Retrieved from

Watkins, R., West, M. M., & Visser, Y. (2012). Guide to assessing needs: Essential tools for collecting information, making decisions, and achieving development results. Retrieved from

Author: Tara McCoy, Lead Instructional Designer

Tara is a lifelong learner and recovering Type A personality. She loves to read and help others learn. A mighty Spartan and Tartar, she earned her BA from Michigan State University, and MA and EdS in Instructional Technology from Wayne State University. She’s an active member of Toastmasters International, having held various chapter-level leadership positions.

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