Strengths and Needs Assessment
Before designing a one-size-fits-all program, it is important to conduct an assessment of participants’ prior knowledge and experience as well as their hopes and expectations for the training. Participants will bring a number of strengths and experiences as well as needs for new information, insights and skills.
Often assessments focus on just needs, but a comprehensive assessment should include both the strengths and needs of participants.
Before the Training
If the participants’ backgrounds are known, an assessment can be conducted before the content and format are planned. The best-case scenario is to do this assessment with some or all of the participants. Assessment methods may include e-mail, fax or telephone surveys, focus groups and personal interviews.
If there is no roster of participants or time is limited, you can conduct an assessment with key informants. The key informant may be the person who invited you to present the training. Another option is conducting and assessment with people who may be demographically matched to those who will be participating.
Assessments should include enough people to cover a variety of perspectives and experiences. This approach presents a fuller picture of the knowledge and experience the participants will bring to the training. The more specific the questions are, the more useful feedback will be.
This information can be used to develop the content and format of the training and guide decisions related to training logistics. If an assessment cannot be conducted, it is helpful to review evaluations from prior training programs.