Evelyn Daniel
Rev. 7/19/99.



Instructional Design - Learner Assessment

There are many 'step' models for insructional design. For example, LaGuardia (on reading list) uses a 12 step model; Gustafson (text, see p. 21) uses an 9 step model. All the models, however, begin with a needs or situational assessment step. Here are some thought questions and mental exercises relating to needs assessment: In needs assessment, Turner asserts that three different needs should be considered:
      the needs of the learner

      the needs of the community or organization (the context)

      the intrinsic importance of the subject matter (what everyone ought to know)

For a population of your choice (e.g., distance education learners, freshmen/sophomore undergraduates, Southern history buffs, K-12 classroom teachers, Southeast Asian researchers, and the like), state some of the needs of the learners, the needs of the community in which they are a member (You may need to define the community), and the LIS subject matter that you think these folks should know. How do these three groups of needs differ?

Five sources of information to help the course designer determine needs are as follows:

      Established standards

      What is being taught elsewhere

      What experts predict future needs will be

      What representatives of the learner population say when asked what is important to them to know or be able to do

      What the learners request

Which of these sources do you think would be the most valid or the most useful for the population you identified above? Why?

Pick a couple of these sources and show how you could use them as a source of information about needs. For example, what relevant knowledge or skills (or attitude) standards exist for your population? What other agencies are offering user education to a group of learners similar to yours? What are they doing and how are they doing it? You might design a short survey that you might use with a sample of your learners. What other sources could you use to determine content and objectives for your population?

Looking at the LIS skills area, Eisenberg suggests that what we need to teach is a process. He calls his approach "the Big 6." The six skills he identifies as necessary for every educated person are:

  1. Task Definition -- the ability to define a problem and to identify the information needed

  2. Information Seeking Strategies -- the knowledge of a variety of possible sources and the knowledge of how to select the best one(s)

  3. Location and Access -- the ability to locate sources and to find information within the sources

  4. Use of Information -- the ability to gather information through reading, listening, viewing, etc. and to extract relevant information

  5. Synthesis -- the ability to organize information from multiple sources and to present the result

  6. Evaluation -- the ability to judge the result (effectiveness) and to judge the process (efficiency)

Do you think every educated person ought to be competent in each of these LIS skills? Are there other skills or knowledge that you think are important?

Based on your (admittedly incomplete) examination of the needs of your learner population, identify 2-4 goals (the "ought to know" statements). Rank the list of goals you created in order of importance.