Module 2 – Analysis phase

As discussed in Module 1, there are documented models for instructional/learning design and often they are presented as consisting of five phases – analysis, design, development, implementation and evaluation. However, these phases are not necessarily linear – evaluation is not something that should be added at the end of a design process. As the following graphic organiser illustrates, the process should be iterative in nature and evaluation should sit at the centre of the process, affecting each of the other phases.

ADDIE model

This module explores the first of these phases, Analysis.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this module, you should be able to:

  • demonstrate understanding of the principles and procedures of learning needs assessment, and learner and learning context analysis;
  • demonstrate understanding of the procedures of knowledge, content/task and skill analysis; and
  • discuss the process of analysis as it relates to teaching and learning situations, the literature, and your own contexts and experiences.

Introduction to analysis

Analysis phase

The analysis stage of designing for learning generally involves analysing the learner and the learning context, assessing learner needs, determining learning goals and learning outcomes, and analysing the content. Analysis is a major concept in design but is sometimes given superficial treatment or put in the “too hard basket”. One of the misconceptions of this task is that it is merely the collection of data to indicate that a course or program is needed, but this is only one element of the task. Not all identified problems may need instruction as a solution. An alternative solution might be less costly and equally effective.

Reading

Clark (2014) provides a brief but reasonably comprehensive overview of the analysis phase. Which parts are relevant will depend upon context but his ideas are a good starting point for most projects. FGCU (2006) offers some principles to guide analysis. Read both now.

Clark, D. (2014). Analysis Phase. Retrieved from http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/hrd/sat2.html

Florida Gulf Coast University. (2006). Instructional/Audience Analysis. Retrieved from http://www.fgcu.edu/onlinedesign/designdev.html

  • What are the most important ideas you gleaned from these readings?
  • How will they affect your thinking about your own project?

Share and discuss in the Module 2 forum.

Recall the related section of Table 1.1. Analysis to support an eclectic approach to design will need to consider the contents of both objectivist and constructivist columns.

Excerpt from Table 1.1: Learning Design Phases with Objectivist and Constructivist Design Activities (Reiser & Dempsey, 2002, p. 76)
Instructional design phases Objectivist design activities Constructivist design activities
Analysis Content Context
  Learner Learner
  Instructional need Problem described
  Instructional goal Key concepts identified

Reading

Return to the reading by Gráinne Conole:

Conole, G. (2014). The 7Cs of Learning Design – a new approach to rethinking design practice. In S. Bayne, C. Jones, M. de Laat, T. Rydberg & C. Sinclair (Eds.), Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Networked Learning (pp. 502-509). Edinburgh, UK.

  • Where is analysis to be found in the 7Cs model?
  • Is the 7Cs approach as thorough in its analysis as other models?

Share and discuss in the Module 2 forum.

Learning needs

A careful analysis to develop understanding of the targeted learners and their learning needs is a precursor to sound learning design. We need to examine the characteristics of our prospective learners (i.e., their existing interests, abilities, attitudes, preferences). The high cost of developing learning experiences demands that a great deal of emphasis be placed on the analysis component of the learning design process. Particularly in a training environment, the purpose of a needs assessment may be seen as follows:

  • defining optimal performance (i.e., the emphasis is on the knowledge, skills, and attitudes the learners must have to perform adequately on the job);
  • identifying actual performance (i.e., the way it is, what people know and do); seeking feelings (i.e., opinions about the problem or task or competence related to it); seeking causes (i.e., why is there a problem and what's causing it?); and finally seeking solutions (i.e., ways of ending or diminishing the problem).

During this phase, learning needs or performance problems are identified. These identified performance problems/deficiencies, as well as potential learning and non-learning solutions, are studied carefully. The nature of performance that currently exists and the ideal performance required are examined. The gap between these two levels will determine the need that a training product might address.

Learner and learning context

The analysis of learners and learning contexts seeks insights into the characteristics of learners and the organisational context or environment that will likely affect the educational or training program. Human and non-human resources, and all types of strengths and constraints are examined, including the many implications of any learning program that may be put in place. These would include such issues as the costs of the learning solution, its short and long-term effects, as well as its motivational impacts for learners. Reading ability tests can help to determine the level at which the planned activities need to be pitched. Instruments to measure attitude towards subject matter and learning might also be necessary as these factors will affect students’ motivation to learn.

There are many standard instruments that are available for the purposes of gaining this insight into the targeted learners and learning context. These include the Biggs’ Study Process Questionnaire. You will need to seek out scholarly references on learning needs and context analysis that are particularly relevant to your own teaching and learning context.

Learning goals and learning outcomes

It has been commonly accepted over the years through such writers as Taba (1962) and Gagne and Briggs (1992) that the design of teaching and learning programs or plans contains a number of interrelated key elements of design. That is, all programs have a purpose, usually expressed as course objectives. All programs have a content dimension (often pre-specified as content to cover, sometimes negotiated with the learner during the implementation of the program). All programs set out methods or suggested strategies and learning experiences. All programs contain details of how course effectiveness might be measured, usually in terms of assessment of learning outcomes. Not all would subscribe to the notion that the development and design of these elements can be represented by a linear sequence (e.g. Objectives – Content – Strategies – Assessment) but most would support the idea that a course design does contain all four elements and that these elements need to be aligned.

Typically, learning goals will be derived or determined from an assessment of learning needs, and learner/learning context analysis. This may be accomplished either formally or rather less formally, as long as the methodology and instruments used are reliable and valid. However, the goal-setting process may not always be so systematic. Designers must be aware that instruction takes place in particular contexts with various social, political and economic implications. Learning goals may be pre-determined and handed down to the designer, or they may be negotiated with the learner.

Learning goals will typically include:

  • a clear general statement of intended learning outcomes;
  • a logical agreement between the identified problem and shortcomings identified through the needs analysis; and
  • a problem that could best be addressed through instruction rather than otherwise.

Some examples of clearly defined learning goals are:

  • Learners will demonstrate a courteous and friendly disposition when greeting customers, attending to their business and concluding transactions.
  • Learners will choose to maximise personal safety while performing assigned tasks on the factory premises.
  • Learners will be able to locate and name various parts of the human anatomy.

A learning outcome (or learning objective), on the other hand, is a statement of desired (learning) capability or attribute to be demonstrated by learners as a result of a learning experience. Such a statement usually specifies:

  • the task or action that learners will actually perform;
  • the conditions under which it will be performed; and
  • the criteria for assessing the performance of the task or the outcome expected.

When learning outcomes or learning objectives, content, and assessment are congruent, learning is enhanced. The principle of congruency implies that the three (i.e. learning outcomes or learning objectives, learning content, and assessment) relate to the same type and level of learned capability. Besides enhancing capability, learning outcomes can also be used to:

  • guide the learning development process (i.e. ensure that all components of the instruction are covered);
  • validate the content (i.e. performance objectives can be used to see if the course content can actually achieve these objectives);
  • develop assessment measures;
  • specify the level of learned capability; and
  • introduce learners to the nature and level of instruction that they are about to receive.

Specifications of learning outcomes and objectives have traditionally been based on Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives (Bloom et al., 1956) which identified six levels within the cognitive domain, from the simple recall or recognition of facts, as the lowest level, through increasingly more complex and abstract mental levels, to the highest order which was classified as evaluation. They also identified five levels in the affective domain and seven in the psychomotor domain. Bloom's original taxonomy of educational objectives has since been revised to reflect changing understandings of the nature of knowledge, knowing and learning. The following readings outline the original and revised taxonomies and provide examples of learning objectives and outcomes that correspond with the various levels in each domain. The second reading is another paper by Anderson and Dron (2012) in which they expand the paper you read in Module 1 to include consideration of how the taxonomy can be used in aligning pedagogical designs and technologies to achieve learning outcomes.

Reading

Clark, D. (2015). Bloom's taxonomy of learning domains. Retrieved from http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/hrd/bloom.html

Anderson, T., & Dron, J. (2012). Learning technology through three generations of technology enhanced distance education pedagogy. European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning, 2012(II).

  • What do you think are the key differences between the original and revised forms of the taxonomy?
  • What insights do Anderson and Dron offer for your learning design project?

Share and discuss in the Module 2 forum.

Analysing content

When analysing the content you will provide to your learners, you need to consider the learning design theories and/or models that are “driving” your design and what approaches are appropriate for your particular context. For example, if you favour the cognitive approach, you will create a learning environment that focuses on teaching knowledge. However, if you favour the constructivist approach, you will create a learning environment where the learners can explore and construct knowledge, and you will not impose a particular process. If your learning objectives or outcomes incorporate objectives in the affective and psychomotor domains in addition to the cognitive domain, different approaches will be required to support learners to develop the desired capabilities and attributes.

Your theoretical approach also will be modified by the particular context. Some learning contexts will require a prescriptive approach, while some are more suited to a constructivist approach. If learners have little pre-knowledge of the content area, you would probably adopt an ADDIE approach that structures the learning experience and has predetermined outcomes. The knowledge base would be analysed to determine the key concepts and skills that need to be addressed. From an objectivist perspective learning can be described as a process of acquiring skills and knowledge needed to build individual capability. In that view it is reasonable to seek to understand how an expert carries out some activity so that the activity can be mapped and taught to others. A structured approach used for novice learners may not be suitable for learners with some pre-knowledge of the content area. The designer needs to select the learning approach (behavioural, cognitive and constructivist) and the content based on the learning context and level of expertise of the learners. This would be determined during the analysis phase.

Reading

The following readings provide examples of different approaches to analysing content for design of learning.

Chyung, S., & Treñas, A. (2009). Content analysis: Key to excellence in your blended learning. Learning Solutions Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.learningsolutionsmag.com/articles/150/content-analysis-key-to-excellence-in-your-blended-learning-

Escamilla, Y. (2014). Using concept-mapping techniques for elearning content analysis. Retrieved from http://info.shiftelearning.com/blog/using-concept-mapping-techniques-for-elearning-content-analysis

Which methods of content analysis seem most practical for your purposes? Share and discuss in the Module 2 forum.

References

Anderson, T., & Dron, J. (2012). Learning technology through three generations of technology enhanced distance education pedagogy. European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning, 2012(II).

Bloom, B. S.; Engelhart, M. D.; Furst, E. J.; Hill, W. H.; Krathwohl, D. R. (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals. Handbook I: Cognitive domain. New York: David McKay Company.

Chyung, S., & Treñas, A. (2009). Content analysis: Key to excellence in your blended learning. Learning Solutions Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.learningsolutionsmag.com/articles/150/content-analysis-key-to-excellence-in-your-blended-learning-

Clark, D. (2014). Analysis phase. Retrieved from http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/hrd/sat2.html

Clark, D. (2015). Bloom's taxonomy of learning domains. Retrieved from http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/hrd/bloom.html

Conole, G. (2014). The 7Cs of Learning Design – a new approach to rethinking design practice. In S. Bayne, C. Jones, M. de Laat, T. Rydberg & C. Sinclair (Eds.), Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Networked Learning (pp. 502-509). Edinburgh, UK.

Escamilla, Y. (2014). Using concept-mapping techniques for elearning content analysis. Retrieved from http://info.shiftelearning.com/blog/using-concept-mapping-techniques-for-elearning-content-analysis

Florida Gulf Coast University. (2006). Instructional/Audience Analysis. Retrieved from http://www.fgcu.edu/onlinedesign/designdev.html

Gagne, R.M., & Briggs, L.J. (1992). Principles of instructional design. Forth Worth: Harcourt Brace Jovanvich.

Reiser, R.A., & Dempsey, J.V. (Eds). (2002). Trends and issues in instructional design and technology. NJ: Merrill Prentice Hall.

Taba, H. (1962). Curriculum development theory and practice. NY: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.