What Constitutes “Analysis” in Instructional Design Efforts? And Beyond?

I’ve been training (and sometimes certifying) Analysts on my own staff and on the staffs of my clients since 1982 and 1983 respectively.

I trained them to do 4 types of Instructional Analysis – trying to keep it simple – and these are what’s needed for my engineered approach to doing design at three levels in my PACT Processes for T&D/ Learning/ Knowledge Management Systems and that also lead to or are targeted at Performance Improvement beyond Instruction/Learning/Training, etc.

We start with the “who” – as in target audience – or audiences.

The Four Types of PACT Analysis

The 4 types of analysis are defined in my 1999 book “lean-ISD” – an award recipient for Instructional Communications from ISPI in 2002 – and available as a free 410-page PDF here.

Analysis is covered in “lean-ISD” in chapter 21-27, pages 239-291. Here from chapter 21…

The four key analytic methods used in Phase 2 of each of the 3 levels of design of the PACT Processes are

  1. Analyzing Target Audience Data
  2. Performance Modeling
  3. Knowledge/Skill Analysis
  4. Assessing Existing T&D

The goal of the PACT project manager and the analyst is to collect the analysis information, understand it, communicate it to key customers and key stakeholders, and have the Project Steering Team “buy it or modify it.” Then use it all in Design.

I very much disliked Analysis methods where data is gathered and then never used. So I eliminated all of that from my efforts – and where others gather data in their analysis efforts to make decisions downstream – I tend to use a Group Process to make those decisions at the time needed. So, for example, I don’t gather and study what the learning environment is like before design to affect design – I facilitate the Design Team – made up of of Master Performers handpicked by the Project Steering Team – to make those decisions – as they always know what is feasible and desireable – and not.

Especially –  and not.

The lean-ISD book – which again is available as a free 410 page PDF – was updated and reconfigured into a new set of book in the summer for 2011.

The Analysis of Performance Competence Requirements covers my analysis methods for both Instructional Design – and of non-Instructional Performance Improvement. My goal in developing these methods – back in the 1980s – was to enable an analyst to Pursue Performance beyond Instruction – as many of the gurus claim/suggest that most of the causes for poor performance – lie outside the individual performers – and can only be fixed elsewhere.

ISPI colleague Brett Christenson and I have an article coming out on that topic soon. So stay tuned!

I have used these analysis methods on over 200 projects since 1979. My business partners, staff, co-workers and clients have used them on hundreds and hundreds more. They have been field tested many times and they have been proven to work.

Analysis Beyond Instruction

Analysis of Performance Competence first looks at Stakeholder Requirements – and then looks at the existing Processes to ensure that they are designed to meet all of the Stakeholders’ Requirements. And then the analysis looks back at the Stakeholders to double check that their needs and constraints are addressed by the Processes.

If the Processes are capable of meeting those Stakeholder Requirements – but still do not – then further analysis is conducted to assess the adequacy of the “Asset Enablers” of that Process or Processes. That’s the data then to be collected in the analysis efforts.

Analysis Methods

The Methods for conducting the analysis are one of two – a Traditional approach of individual interviews, observations and document reviews – or a facilitated Group Process. Both generate the same data – the latter is just quicker than the former, and produces a consensus as it proceeds – while the former takes longer, costs more and needs to create a consensus around the data in repeated review cycles, and/or after the dust settles on the analysis efforts.

While I prefer the Group Process to the Traditional approach – it must be acknowledged that the Group Process is not always feasible in every project’s context.

Books – Old and New

My new book on Analysis book does not go beyond Analysis into Design, Development, etc., – as lean-ISD did – but does “begin with the end in mind” in that changes, improvements, re-design may very well need to take place post-analysis. Those topics that were covered in the old lean-ISD book are now covered in the new books – but can be used by those analysts who need them. Designers or Developers may not.

The targets for those post-analysis changes – the ends in mind – beyond instruction – are in these three areas:

  1. The Processes themselves
  2. The Environmental Assetsthat enable Processes, such as
    • Information/ data
    • Tools/ equipment
    • Materials/ supplies
    • Facilities/ grounds
    • Budget/ headcount
    • Consequences (+/ –)
  3. The Human Assetsthat enable Processes, such as
    • Awareness, knowledge, skills
    • Physical attributes
    • Psychological attributes
    • Intellectual attributes
    • Values

In my view Performance Competence is the ability to perform tasks to produce outputs to Stakeholder Requirements.


After all – what else could be the point?

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