Needs Assessment Process

A needs assessment is an activity utilized to plan effectively, identify priorities, make decisions and solve problems. Its utilization affects every aspect of training: Planning, Designing, Delivering and Evaluating.

The designer may know the answers to the guiding questions or may need to seek answers from the individual or group requesting the staff development to be designed.

Go to the Broward county schools HRD Website and click on Quality Assurance Guide to review the Guiding Questions for Designing Staff Development.


MOD 1-A: Needs Assessment Approach

Reflect on the Design Project you have identified for demonstrating your learning in this course. To get some practice with the Guiding Questions, click here and respond to each question as a preliminary step to assessing needs for the project. You may fax or U.S. mail or Pony Mail it to your facilitator.

Needs Assessment Types

Broward County Schools HRD Department requires that a needs assessment be conducted in advance of the design process to gather information about the potential participants and the context in which they work.

Types of Needs Assessments
Click on each Needs Assessment Type to learn more.

To make a good decision about the needs assessment approach you will use, consider:

  • the size of the population for the training
  • the participant group
  • the best method of communicating with participants or a sample of participants
  • the multiple sources of data that might be helpful in understanding the needs of the adult learners

Broward HRD Department recommends the following process:

Here's an example of a needs assessment that was completed before designing the BCS Leadership Team Training for School leadership treams.  This needs assessment tapped multiple sources of data.  Click on the review icon to see the plan.

Review: Upward Bound Needs Assessment Plan



To further develop your understanding of the various needs assessment approaches, you may get ideas for your own project by viewing examples of several approaches. Click on each of the following resource buttons to link to samples of needs assessments done for Leadership Development Team Training for School leadership teams.

Links to Sample Needs Assessment Approaches:

As you design and develop the approach you plan to use for needs assessment, compare what you develop with the HRD Department's Quality Needs Assessment Checklist.

MOD 1-B: Select one of the following frequently used approaches (Focus Group, Interview, Questionnaire) for assessing needs of the participant group for your design project, and write a rationale for your selection. Re-reading the pros and cons of the various approaches may help you. A PDF file is provided as an option. You may fax or US Mail or Pony Mail it to your facilitator.

Develop 3 - 5 questions that you would ask your participants or other data sources to better understand their learning needs. E mail your needs assessment approach, rationale and questions to your learning facilitator. Then print out and bring your sample needs assessment to the first study group session for discussion with your learning colleagues.

Needs Assessment Approach:

Rationale for Selecting This Approach:

Question 1:

Question 2:

Question 3:

Question 4:

Question 5:

Collecting and Analyzing Data

Staff development that impacts results must begin with a needs assessment that is data-based. Collecting and analyzing needs assessment data is important for several reasons:

  • Data replaces our hunches and hypotheses about the needed content for the adult learners.
  • Data allows us to target the specific learning objectives for the adult learners so precious staff development time is not wasted.
  • Data on the adult learner’ needs increases the likelihood the adult will be engaged in the learning opportunity and increases the likelihood that new learning will transfer and have impact on performance.

Reflect on the data you collected and analyzed for developing a recent staff development activity. Think about these questions.

  • Did you use a single data source or multiple sources?
  • Which type or types of needs assessment did you use?
  • As the design was implemented, how well did you find you had targeted the needs of the participants?

Now take a look at some helpful hints for gathering and analyzing data using some of the Broward County HRD Department recommended tools. Click on any of the tools to learn helpful information. Be sure to click and review the tool that you have decided to use with your design project.


Focus Group






Using Data for Design

When the designer has gathered needs assessment data from one or more sources, the next step is to display these data and to find information that will be helpful in creating the design that meets needs of the learner.

Consider this example of using data for design. Based on your performance on the pretest for this course, what needs were identified for you as a learner? In the first study group session, we will analyze the data from your pretest along with the data from your co-learners. The information about this class will be helpful to the designer and the facilitator in determining:

  • What content needs to be stressed or supplemented
  • Areas of content where the learner group already has expertise
  • Who some “experts” are within the learner group in specific areas of content

Quantitative Data

For quantitative needs assessment data which might be gathered through a survey or questionnaire or through results on a pre-test, you might consider using an Excel Spreadsheet to display the needs assessment results. Creating a bar graph, pie chart or other graphic organizer may assist you in using the data for design.

Qualitative Data

For qualitative needs assessment data which might be gathered through observations, focus groups or through interviews, follow these steps to help you be able to use the data for design. First, index or summarize the data labeling like ideas with a symbol, letter or number.

Step 1: Index or summarize the data labeling like ideas with a symbol, letter or number
Ask: What do we have?

  • Topics
  • Quotes

Step 2: Then, look for themes or categories
Ask: What goes together?
Ask: Are there sub-themes?

Step 3: Next, create a visual or graphic to show any relationship among themes or categories
Ask: What is the big picture?

Once you have gathered data using one of the Broward HRD Department’s recommended tools and summarized the data, think about how what you have learned will guide your design. Be prepared to talk with co-learners about your needs assessment results at the first study group meeting.