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Assessment of learning needs – strategies, methods

Strategies for carrying out assessment of learning needs 

For assessing the learning needs for conducting an educational program, there are some key tasks or strategies. They are

  • Determine the target population: identify for whom the course is designed (e.g community, nurses, doctors, students etc.)
  • Determine the participants needs:
    • Draw from the past experiences with the similar groups
    • Gathered information from the same groups by informal discussions
    • Conducted surveys
    • Works with an advisory panel
    • Observation of the participants
    • Interview of the participants
  • Understand participants characteristics
    • Experiences
    • Cultural background
  • Education

Methods of carrying out assessment of learning needs

  • Although the literature generally reports only on the more formal methods of needs assessment, but there are a wide range of informal ways of identifying learning needs.
  • Questionnaires and structured interviews seem to be the most commonly reported methods of needs assessment, but such methods are also used for evaluation, assessment, management, education, and now appraisal and re-validation.
  • Together, these formal and informal methods might make an effective battery where there is clarity of purpose. The Good CPD Guide details 46 formal and informal methods of self assessment

Good CPD Guide‘s classification of sources of needs assessment

Clinician’s own experiences in direct patient care

  • Competence standards
  • Diaries
  • Difficulties arising in practice
  • Innovations in practice
  • Mistakes
  • Other disciplines
  • Patients’ complaints and feedback
  • Necropsies and the clinico-pathological conference
  • PUNs (patient unmet needs)
  • Reflection on practical experience

Interactions within the clinical team and department

  • Clinical meetings, department and grand rounds
  • Department business plan
  • Department educational meetings
  • External recruitment
  • Junior staff
  • Management roles
  • Mentoring

Formal approaches to quality management and risk assessment

  • Audit
  • Morbidity patterns
  • Patient adverse events
  • Patient satisfaction surveys
  • Risk assessment

Specific activities directed at needs assessment

  •    Clinical incident surveys
  •    Gap analysis
  •    Objective tests of knowledge and skill
  •    Observation
  •    Revalidation systems
  •    Self assessment
  •    Video assessment of performance

Peer review

  •    External
  •    Informal of the individual doctor
  •    Internal
  •    Multidisciplinary
  •    Physician assessment

Non-clinical activities

  •    Academic activities
  •    Conferences
  •    International visits
  •    Journal articles
  •    Medicolegal cases
  •    Press and media
  •    Professional conversations
  •    Research
  •    Teaching