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Determining Individual Training Needs

Updated on September 14, 2020
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Jacqueline Williamson graduated with a BBA in Personnel Admin., an MPA in HR Management and an MS in Education.

Your students are unique and should be treated as such.
Your students are unique and should be treated as such.


When adults are enrolled in formal educational programs, it is usually for a specific purpose. They are often goal-oriented and come to a learning situation in order to meet immediate needs. Whether enrollment is voluntary or involuntary, they expect that their investment of time and energy will bring tangible, useful results. They expect that their needs will be addressed and their goals will be met.

Identifying What Information Is Needed

A need represents the difference between where you are and where you want to be. In vocational-technical programs, training needs come from two sources:

  1. the requirements and the standards of the occupation, and
  2. the goals and experiences of the learners

To determine the training needs to be addressed in an adult occupational program, the two sources must be tapped. Only then can you accurately determine:

  • where the learners are,
  • where they need or want to be, and consequently,
  • what learning experience should be included in the program

What Information?

Before you gather information about the adult learners in your class, you first need to pinpoint your information needs. Generally, instructors of adults find they need to obtain the following types of information about their students:

  • demographics
  • learning styles
  • past experiences
  • past education
  • career goals
  • learning objectives
  • basic skills

There are many ways of securing information ... like the comfort of your own home.
There are many ways of securing information ... like the comfort of your own home.

How to Secure Information

Commonly used information-gathering methods are as follows:

  • Referral to existing information
  • Information cards
  • Group discussions

Planning and selecting topics for discussion

  • Life roles
  • Motivation for enrollment and learning objectives
  • Learning styles
  • Career goals
  • Training needs
  • Goals

Preparing questions for discussion

  • Your role as facilitator
  • Arranging the physical setting
  • Recording relevant information
  • Limitations of group information
  • Questionnaires/surveys
    • Objective information
    • Basic skills
    • Additional information

Selecting information

Formulating questions

  • Short-answer items
  • Checklists
  • Stem items
  • Short essay items
  • Priority lists
  • Additional information, comments, requests
  • Informal interviews
  • Standardized tests
  • Self-assessment tests

Online Questionnaires and Surveys are the most popular methods of getting information.
Online Questionnaires and Surveys are the most popular methods of getting information.

Questionnaire and Survey Items

Short-Answer Items

How many years of education beyond high school have you completed?

What type of program were you enrolled in?

Did you receive a degree or certificate? ___ yes ___ no

What courses have you taken or are you currently taking that are related to this course?

Is this your first vocational-technical training experience? ___yes ___no

What is your current occupation?

Checklist Items

Why did you enroll in this course? Check all the items that apply.

_____ To obtain vocational training

_____ To retain present employment

_____ For professional advancement

_____ Considering a career change

_____ For personal enjoyment and enrichment

_____ To meet new people and have new experiences

_____ Other (please describe) __________________________________

Stem Items

Please complete the following items.

In this program, I plan to learn to ______________________________

The easiest way for me to learn something is _______________________

This program will help me in my personal development by ____________

Short Essay Items

Briefly describe the responsibilities of your current occupation.

How do you expect participation in this program to improve your career?

Briefly describe your reasons for enrolling in this program.

How do you most prefer to spend your free time?

Priority List Items

List and rank-order the five most important skills you expect to gain in this class.

List and rank-order the five most important things you expect to achieve/acquire as a result of gaining these skills.

List and rank-order your three most important life responsibilities at the present.

There are many different avenues of record keeping.
There are many different avenues of record keeping.

Maintaining Student Records

Depending on the specific learning situation, student records may include some or all of the following items:

  • Basic information cards or sheets
  • Completed needs questionnaires or surveys
  • Information provided from the intake process
  • Standardized test results
  • Attendance records
  • Brief summaries of tasks learners have performed, dates performance occurred, and the performance rating given
  • Grades, dates, and evaluations of learners’ projects
  • Notes form observations, interviews, and group discussions
  • Notes about learners’ individual instructional plans, modifications, and additions to the overall plan
  • Copies of model students papers and tests
  • Copies of student work that may serve as documentation should evaluations and grades be challenged later

All student records should be maintained in a secure environment.
All student records should be maintained in a secure environment.

Organization of Records

It is relatively simple to set up a record-keeping system that will meet your needs. There are a few basic rules in this procedure:

  • Minimize, as much as is practical, the number of records you keep.
  • Include only information that is relevant to meeting individual needs, evaluation needs, and institution requirements.
  • Record grades, attendance, etc., in chronological order.
  • Logically sequence related types of information.
  • File information about individuals in alphabetical order by surname.
  • Make records easy to use—whether for quick reference, for adding new information, or for forwarding information to program administrators when required.
  • Keep up-to-date with record-keeping activities.

If you teach a lot of adult learners, try to simplify record management as much as possible.
If you teach a lot of adult learners, try to simplify record management as much as possible.

Basic Methods of Record Keeping

It is possible to develop a relatively simple record keeping system by using one or more of the following methods:

  • Records books
  • Record-keeping forms
  • Index card files
  • Loose-leaf notebooks
  • Other storage devices

Once you have determined individual needs then you will be able to streamline your teaching to incorporate the various goals of your adult students.

© 2014 Jacqueline Williamson BBA MPA MS


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