Needs Assessment is an evaluative activity; the first assessment that a program developer must do to understand the gap between what is and what needs to be (what is desired). Needs assessments are the evaluative activity in the Situation box of a linear logic model.
Sometimes, however, the target audience doesn’t know what they need to know and that presents challenges for the program planner. How do you capture a need when the target audience doesn’t know they need the (fill in the blank). That challenge is the stuff of other posts, however.
I had the good fortune to talk with Sam Angima, an Oregon Regional Administrator who has been tasked with the charge of developing expertise in needs assessment. Each Regional Administrator (there are 12) has been tasked with different charges to whom faculty can be referred. We captured Sam’s insights in a conversational Aha! moment. Let me know what you think.
Nice discussion, Molly and Sam.
In the area needs assessment, I’ve found that it seems like it is always more than just needs assessment. What we really need to understand includes needs, wants and motivations. As you note, just understanding what a person or community needs, doesn’t take into account the other factors. If I know what you need but you don’t recognize that as a need, then I have to better understand your wants and what motivates you to effectively design my program. Good job helping us understand the complexity of this process.