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Posted by Julie Delazyn
Assessments have many different purposes, and to use them effectively it’s important to understand their context and uses within the learning process.
Last week I wrote about formative assessments, and today I’ll explore needs assessments.
Typical uses:

  • Determining the knowledge, skills, abilities and attitudes of a group to assist with gap analysis and courseware development
  • Determining the difference between what a learner knows and what they are required to know
  • Measuring against requirements to determine a gap that needs to be filled
  • Helping training managers, instructional designers, and instructors work out what courses to develop or administer to satisfy their constituents’ needs
  • Determining if participants were routed to the right kind of learning experiences


  • Job task analysis (JTA) survey
  • Needs analysis survey
  • Skills gap survey

Stakes: low

A food service company can run a needs analysis survey to identify differences between the knowledge of subject matter experts and people on the job. Evaluating the different groups’ scores, as shown in the gap analysis chart below, reveals the overall differences between the experts’ and workers’ knowledge. But more significantly, it diagnoses a strong need for workers to improve their understanding of food safety. Information like this can inform the organization’s decision about further staff development plans and learning programs.

For more details about assessments and their uses check out the white paper, Assessments Through the Learning Process. You can download it free here, after login. Another good source for testing and
assessment terms is our glossary.
In the coming weeks I’ll take a look at two other assessment types:

  • Reaction
  • Summative