A fairly common instructional design tool is the ADDIE model. The acronym stands for assessment, design, development, implementation and evaluation. It was created back in the 1970s by Florida State University as part of a military training project.
In recent years, the ADDIE model has received some criticism that it's not flexible enough for today's modern learning environment. However, the individual steps in ADDIE are still very necessary. Is it possible that the model is fine, but we need to view each step in a modern context? For example, let's take the first step: assessment. And then we'll look at the one thing you need to make sure is a part of your assessment work.
Assessments are important. Even when you know what you want.
Assessments get a bad reputation because of their lengthiness. The remedy for super-sized assessments isn't to eliminate them; it's to come up with a better assessment timeline. Another reason that organizations shy away from assessments is that they believe that "They know what they want." Therefore, the company is just going to create it.
Conducting a valuable assessment is about having a verified understanding of the current and future state. When an organization is considering the implementation of training, development or learning, they're doing so for a reason. It might be to improve performance in a particular department. Or to enhance employee skills in a specific area. Or to reduce errors in an identified phase. Whether it's to bring something up to standard or make good performance great, learning is about improving performance on some level. Which means that organizations need to have a clear understanding of what's happening now with current and future performance.
The assessment allows organizations to verify the factors that contribute to the current performance situation. Because the last thing any organization wants is for their learning solution to solve the wrong problem. Or not to solve a problem at all. Oops!
Even when organizations know the direction they want to go, conducting a short assessment isn't a bad thing. It can confirm that the company's direction is right on target. Or it might suggest a few tweaks that will make the learning solution even stronger (and more valuable).
Feedback should be part of any assessment
When conducting an assessment, organizations will often look at the information they have on hand. This is probably not a huge surprise, but those documents include:
- Existing learning programs and evaluations
- Job descriptions
- Performance evaluations
- Stay and exit interviews
- Employee engagement survey results
The most important step in the assessment process should include employee and manager feedback. Not just from the standpoint of getting buy-in, but to find out what's currently happening and what should be happening.
It's sad to say, but not everything that is documented is what really takes place. For example, do employees do everything on their job description? Maybe they do more. Possibly less. The point is, if organizations rely solely on documents to conduct an assessment, they're missing out on the most important part.
So, how do we get this valuable feedback? Organizations can receive feedback via focus groups, online surveys or in-person interviews. There are pros and cons to each method depending on the amount of time and expense the company is willing to bear. In fact, it could be argued that if the organization only had enough resources to do one activity, it would make much more sense to conduct feedback sessions over a document review. Because getting information from the source - managers and employees - is going to be more accurate than getting it from what could be outdated documents.
Assessments drive the learning experience
Organizations create programs to improve performance. It takes conducting an assessment to understand the best program to create. And the best information to collect during the assessment will come directly from managers and employees.
Assessments, as part of the instructional design process, serve several purposes. They help organizations understand what's happening and their options for creating a solution. But to get a solution that's totally focused on the learner and the learner's performance? Make sure to include feedback from the learner!
P.S. Join us for the next part in this series about the ADDIE model when we talk about how design impacts learner performance.