AEA365 | A Tip-a-Day by and for Evaluators

CAT | Needs Assessment

I’m Maurya West Meiers. I work at the World Bank as a Senior Evaluation Officer and am coauthor of A Guide to Assessing Needs: Essential Tools for Collecting Information, Making Decisions, and Achieving Development Results (available for free here).

My needs assessment and evaluation work often centers around areas of learning, capacity building, organizational development, management, performance, change management, and related topics.  For that reason, I often rely on models and resources from many diverse fields to help me “frame” my work.  These models and frameworks can also be helpful in designing your data collection instruments, by giving you a starting point when preparing a set of categories or lists to which informants can respond in areas you want to probe.  The following are some of my favorite models or resources for assessing learning, building capacity, improving performance, and managing change:

Rad Resource:

If you are looking for more models, frameworks or approaches on these and related topics, check out the following.

Needsassessment.org pages on models and theories. Ryan Watkins, manager of this page and my coauthor on A Guide to Assessing Needs, has put together these handy resources on models and theories for needs assessment.

The International Society for Performance Improvement is a good source for learning more about models and approaches and connecting with others interested in these topics, commonly termed Human Performance Technology (HPT).

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Needs Assessment (NA) TIG Week with our colleagues in the Needs Assessment Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our NA TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

 

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Underlying any needs assessments is a concept of what is a “need.”  I’m Ryan Watkins and I teach how to do needs assessments at George Washington University and for The Evaluator’s Institute. It can be implied from the word that a need refers to a relationship where something is “needed,” or in other words that there is a necessity relationship.  In needs assessments we begin by looking for those necessity relationships as they link together results – result X is necessary to achieve result Y.

We then tie several of those relationships together as the basis for a Theory of Change.  For example, a community organization may determine that a delivered service or output (X) is necessary to achieve an outcome (Y) for their clients.  Further, the clients must achieve the outcome (Y) in order for the community to accomplish a desired impact (Z).

Necessity relationships are tricky however; necessity leaves little wiggle room. If you state that X is necessary for Y, then you are saying that there is no way to accomplish Y without having achieved X. Often these relationships appear clear; but rarely are they. Whereas initially we may believe that, in order to achieve a desired cholesterol level (Y) we have to maintain adherence to a prescription medication (X1); we may now learn that maintaining a healthy lifestyle (X2) is also necessary – yet neither may be sufficient. Today X3 is necessary, tomorrow it is not.  Necessity relationships can get complex.

However, we get into necessity troubles when we try to extend these necessity relationships to what we may do in order to achieve those results.  Here is why: system theory posits (in the principle of equifinality) that in open systems there are always alternatives for achieving any result. The options may not be desirable, but they do exist. These options, however, keep us from being able to claim necessity in the relationship between an activity (which the literature often refers to as solutions or satisfiers) and a result.  That is, an activity (A) can’t be necessary to achieve result (X) since there are always options to consider.  Activity A may be the most desirable activity for achieving X, but that is different than saying it is necessary. Likewise, A may be sufficient for achieving X, but still not be necessary.

Hot Tip:  Clarity in language can improve decisions.

With sufficient evidence, we state that one result is necessary for the achievement of another result – and we call these needs. But we can’t say that any activity or intervention is necessary to achieve those results, we must note that there are always alternatives. Fortunately, just knowing that there are options can lead us to better decisions.

Rad Resources:

Using set theory, Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) techniques give us tools for measuring necessity relationships. The open-source statistics platform, R, now has a free QCA package you can install to analyze case study data.

Concept map of Principle of Equifinality

 

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Needs Assessment (NA) TIG Week with our colleagues in the Needs Assessment Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our NA TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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Hello! We’re Beth Mulligan and Kate Darwent from Corona Insights, a firm that provides research, evaluation, and strategic consulting services for government and nonprofit organizations.  We are often contacted by clients who have both very limited resources and a very strong desire to understand and address the needs in their community (whether “their community” is low-income residents of a city or county, library patrons, Latinx children in their school district, or some other group). Here are some suggestions for creative ways to get useful and actionable data for a small budget needs assessment.

  1. Use secondary data sources.  Start by searching for and reviewing relevant existing reports or datasets.  This may include reports from state agencies or national organizations that reveal insights about your target population, relevant Census data, or previous studies conducted by your client.  Making sure you know what is already known before collecting new data is the first step to managing limited resources.
  2. Use your client’s resources creatively.  Although the client may have a limited budget to pay for outside help, they may be able to offer their own time and effort, or may have volunteer staff available, or may have other budgets for materials like printing or mailing that they can use.  Help the client to determine where they most need your help and expertise, and where they can take on tasks themselves with your guidance.
  3. Remember that perfect is the enemy of good.  Although we may prefer to conduct 15 key person interviews, would conducting two be better than zero?  Oftentimes, yes.  And though we would like to survey everyone in the community by mail, and send no fewer than two follow-up mailings, is the information we will get from a single mailing better than nothing? Would the information from an open-link survey or an intercept survey at some community events be better than nothing?  The judgment about whether to use what we may think of as lower-quality methods depends on the trade-offs in each situation.  In a situation where the population is relatively small and engaged, it may be reasonable to post an open-link survey on social media.  In other situations, it may be acceptable to do two interviews with service recipients rather than a representative sample survey.  No one solution will fit all situations, but be open to various non-optimal solutions that find the best compromise between quality and cost, especially when you have difficult-to-reach target populations.

Sometimes budget restrictions shrink or disappear when the client understands the value of more expensive options.  Don’t hesitate to communicate the benefits of things like greater coverage, higher response rates, participation from more stakeholder groups, expertise in data analysis, mapping, and so on.  Hopefully you won’t have to make tradeoffs because of financial resources, but in case you do, we hope these suggestions help you maximize the resources available to help a client serve their community better.

Rad Resource:

Conducting Quality Impact Evaluations Under Budget, Time and Data Constraints.  Independent Evaluation Group, World Bank

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Needs Assessment (NA) TIG Week with our colleagues in the Needs Assessment Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our NA TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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Hi! I’m Madhawa “Mads” Palihapitiya, Associate Director of the Massachusetts Office of Public Collaboration at UMass Boston. In 2016, my agency completed the Massachusetts municipal conflict resolution needs assessment study which was commissioned by the Massachusetts State Legislature in 2014. The study features how destructive public conflicts, within and between municipalities, and their constituencies were addressed in Massachusetts.  It also looks at what municipalities think should be addressed in the future for appropriate solution development to meet gaps/needs and strengthen existing assets. This created an opportunity for us to test the utility and strengths of a hybrid process of needs assessment and asset/capacity building.  Our asset map here was developed by the team’s Joy Winkler.

Hot Tip: Needs assessment starts with a negative perspective (something’s missing) while asset mapping begins with the positive (strengths). Due to philosophical and methodological differences, the two methods are seldom practiced together. Some attempts have been made to bridge the divide, both theoretically and practically, resulting in the creation of a hybrid framework.

We were assessing needs in an increasingly complex political landscape where our agency could also be a solutions provider. Powerful stakeholders have significant political capital, resources and influence in the area where we were assessing the needs, and potentially delivering solutions. The hybrid model enabled us to manage that critical interdependence with key stakeholders and solutions providers by acknowledging and validating the contributions of many individuals, organizations and groups already working to address the gaps in results at the state, regional and local levels. The asset/capacity building also had the effect of validating and increasing the credibility of our own process. By identifying these stakeholders as assets, and by recognizing their functions, roles and contributions, we managed to avoid marginalizing them, which could have potentially undermined our process.

We discovered that the deficit-focused inquiry in needs assessment was sometimes inadequate in acknowledging “who or what’s already there.” Appreciative inquiry, a hallmark of asset/capacity building, complemented the deficit-oriented inquiry of needs assessment by helping to elicit information about effective resources; including organizations, people, processes, knowledge and practices already in place.

Hot Tip: Asset/capacity building increases the self-esteem of individuals and communities and their coping abilities, which in turn leads to less dependency on external services. The deficiency model in needs assessment can affect the self-determination of communities and reinforce the power gap between service recipients and service providers.

By building an asset inventory into needs assessment, we expanded the boundary of who should be involved in defining the needs and solutions, and to identify who should be involved in delivering those solutions. This is particularly important when conducting assessments involving complex problems demanding complex solutions where no single entity has neither the jurisdiction nor the capacity to do everything, and multiple stakeholder groups have to collaborate to deliver solutions.

Hot Tip: Evaluators using the hybrid process in complex situations must strive for inclusivity and diversity of stakeholders engaged. “Engagement” in this sense is broader than consultation or keeping people informed.

Asset Map developed by Joy Winkler for the Massachusetts Municipal Conflict Resolution Needs Assessment

Asset Map developed by Joy Winkler for the Massachusetts Municipal Conflict Resolution Needs Assessment

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Needs Assessment (NA) TIG Week with our colleagues in the Needs Assessment Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our NA TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

Hi, we are James W. Altschuld, Hsin-Ling (Sonya) Hung, and Yi-Fang Lee from The Ohio State University, Virginia Commonwealth University, and National Taiwan Normal University, and have presented on, written about, and been involved in NAs for many years.  In reviewing manuscripts for publication, we have observed measurement and analysis issues in double scaled surveys used for identifying discrepancies between what should be (importance) and what is (current) conditions.  They include wording, scaling choices, organization, misleading conclusions and interpretations, and others.

If the survey is not sound what comes from it will be the fruit of the poisonous tree.  By offering ideas for improving NA surveys some (not all) of the weaknesses can be attended to and the quality of needs work will be enhanced.

Hot Tips:

  1. Read sources about the design and especially strengths and weaknesses in NA surveys (some sources do both, see Rad Resources).
  2. Search for sample NA surveys in the area of concern, examine/critique for strengths and weaknesses as noted in point 1.
  3. See if other techniques have been used with the surveys. (Having multiple sources of information is good practice.)
  4. Conduct pre-interviews (focus group, individual) with a few respondents regarding their thoughts and the language they use for the area of concern. (Will make the instrument more meaningful.)
  5. Cluster items into sections and consider having respondents rank them after completing the survey. (Not all clusters will be equal of value.)
  6. Employ options like don’t know (DN), no information (NI) upon which to decide, not applicable (NA), etc.
  7. Forcing choices without such options, as in point 6, may produce misleading data and additionally the options provide useful information.
  8. Have an undecided (neutral) response on the scale. (Similar rationale to point 6.)
  9. Consider alternatives such as magnitude estimation scaling (MES), fuzzy scales, rank ordering approaches, etc. (Let’s be expansive and innovative in what we do.)
  10. Multiple ways exist for analyzing data ranging from simple/weighted needs indexes, means difference analysis, proportional reduction in error (PRE), etc. (Try several, see if results differ and conclusions are affected.)

Lessons Learned:

  1. Seemingly simple double scaled surveys are not so seemingly simple.
  2. ‘There are 95 rules of survey design and after the 95th there are 95 more you don’t know about.’ This applies doubly to double scaled NA surveys and to illustrate the assertion, note that we haven’t touched the gnarly topic of “how to word” items.

Rad Resources:

Altschuld, J. W. (2010). Needs Assessment Phase II: Collection data, Chapter 3: That Pesky Needs Assessment Survey. pp. 35-57. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications

White, J. L. & Altschuld, J. W. (2012). Understanding the “what should be condition in needs assessment data.” Evaluation and Program Planning, 35(1), 124-132.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Needs Assessment (NA) TIG Week with our colleagues in the Needs Assessment Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our NA TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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Welcome to the Needs Assessment TIG’s week on AEA 365! I’m Lisle Hites, Chair of the Needs Assessment TIG, Associate Professor in Health Care Organization and Policy and Director of the Evaluation and Assessment Unit (EAU) at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Public Health. On behalf of all of us here at the Needs Assessment TIG, we hope you enjoy this week’s blog entries and to see you at some of our sessions at AEA 2018. Today’s posting is about the complexity of assessing needs in communities and offers a couple of lessons learned that might be of use.

For those of you who have ever tried to assess the needs of a community, especially those communities that are disadvantaged in terms of health, socioeconomic status (SES), etc., with so many apparent needs, researchers, unfortunately, often feel comfortable addressing whatever they want to while couching it as a priority need for the community. I am working on such an effort, here in Birmingham Alabama. Birmingham has 99 distinct neighborhoods, most, if not all of which, are medically underserved and between low and ultra-low on the SES spectrum.  Past needs assessments have uncovered a multitude of priorities that vary quite a bit between these tightly grouped urban areas. We have high levels of urban blight in some as indicated in part by abandoned houses, but very few in others. The more a neighborhood is blighted, the fewer resources residents want to put into it, deepening the blight. Many problems contribute to or result from this situation, most of which are identified needs in the eyes of the community and researchers. How then do we decide where and how to intervene?

Working from identified needs, we are involving the communities of interest in planning stages for an intervention. Even so this has resulted in little or no change in the community and they do not trust that this will be any different from previous efforts. Here’s where asset mapping can save the day. By simultaneously assessing needs and mapping assets, we are positioned to identify what is most needed and match that with where we can best impact that need and with what resources. Community, city, county, and even regional resources already exist. By systematically identifying what those resources are, where they are willing to go, what fits within their mission and scope, we can now better select where we can intervene with the most impact, leveraging existing resources to maximize outcomes.

Lessons Learned:

  1. Communities are complex organisms and propinquity does not necessarily mean generalizability of needs assessed.
  2. Community-focused Needs Assessments are a difficult sell without a path forward to improvement.
  3. Asset mapping can complement needs assessment to help form a continuous improvement cycle, each providing input for the next iteration of the other.

Rad Resources:

Altschuld, James W. Bridging the Gap Between Asset/Capacity Building and Needs Assessment. Sage Publications Inc., 2015.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Needs Assessment (NA) TIG Week with our colleagues in the Needs Assessment Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our NA TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

Lisle Hites

I hope you are all enjoying the Translational Research Evaluation TIG week on AEA 365! I’m Lisle Hites, incoming Program Chair of the TRE TIG and also Chair of the Needs Assessment TIG. In my spare time, I’m also an Associate Professor in the School of Public Health and Director of Evaluation for the Centers for Disease Control Prevention Research Center (PRC) and the National Institutes of Health Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS) at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). Today’s posting is about the use of needs assessment (NA) in supporting translational science.

After more than 17 years of working with researchers, organizations, and communities to assess needs, with 12 of those focusing on translational science with the PRC and Clinical & Translational Science Award (CTSA), it has become clear that there is really no one technique that best suits every situation. As an example, I’m going to draw on a needs assessment my team conducted several years ago to align research investigators with the needs of the communities from which they were drawing their study participants. This was a multi-step process that began with a focus group consisting of a mixed group of community members, interested academic researchers, and guided by the CCTS’ community engagement arm, we call One Great Community. This organization works in tandem with our PRC. We gathered community health concerns, then developed them into a survey based NA protocol that was then utilized to collect data from each of the 99 neighborhoods within Birmingham that surround UAB. The NA utilized scaled response options to collect this neighborhood-level data, allowing us to use the scales to determine community prioritization of their self-reported concerns for each of these health factors. The CCTS then took the most highly prioritized needs and designed a partner funding opportunity that supported community/academic investigator pairs to propose community-driven research pilot projects that addressed these identified top priorities.

We are now in our 5th year of offering these Community Health Innovation Awards and the results have been outstanding, thanks to assessing the community’s needs at the start and asking them what they are most concerned about. Truly, the number of ways to target and conduct NA are nearly infinite. By starting with assessing needs, researchers have the opportunity to gain the support of the communities in which they research and recruit subjects and to use this information to better inform their choices and their application of translational science.

Lessons Learned:

  1. NA can be conducted in a variety of ways to help focus and direct research to meet the perceived needs of targeted populations.
  2. During the conduct of a NA, nothing precludes you from disseminating findings (i.e. lessons learned) and even solutions to needs at the same time.
  3. Sometimes NA are an end as well as a means, reducing the needs they seek to assess.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Translational Research Evaluation (TRE) TIG week. All posts this week are contributed by members of the TRE Topical Interest Group. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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Hi, I’m Jim Altschuld, an emeritus faculty member at the Ohio State University in the school of educational policy and leadership. Today I’m sharing some tips on asset-based thinking when doing needs assessments.

First, for some premises to note:

  • Needs, discrepancies between current and desirable conditions, are problems, issues, or difficulties to be resolved.
  • Assets are resources (strengths) that can be used to improve what we do and programs to be delivered.
  • Needs and assets are related, yet different, philosophies through which people view, plan, and eventually evaluate efforts.
  • Most individuals employ/favor one or the other when beginning an endeavor and those lenses color viewpoints.
  • But, consider using both at the same time in an unbiased manner to optimally develop solutions to problems.

And now for some Hot Tips:

Divide and Conquer

To avoid one philosophy from dominating, divide assessors into teams to independently investigate needs and assets.

Creatively Review Findings

Have those that identified needs review the findings for assets and vice versa for the ones about needs.

Encourage Unique Ways to Think about Assets

Consider assets and how they might be employed not just as solutions for needs, but in distinct ways that capitalize upon them. (Be open to such thinking)

Recognize the Hidden Dimension of Assets

Volunteerism, help in patient care, in-kind community service contributions, the skills and abilities of individuals, etc. may be hard to measure but nevertheless is an important asset and serves an invaluable function. Without them the fabric of our society would be much less rich.

Be Instrumental when Resolving Needs and/or Utilizing Assets

The best solutions for underlying problems are those that would be helpful in dealing several problems at the same time (the instrumental concept).  

Examples Illustrating Principles in the Tips:

Use of Public Libraries

Need:      enhancing out of school computer learning for grades K-3

Solution: design programs for children that could be adapted to help elderly populations in getting connected to the internet

Fostering Volunteerism through Recreational Businesses

Need: government services will be cut due to reduced budgets

Solution: recreational businesses offer chits for what they provide to incentivize volunteers to cover some service gaps

Community to the Rescue

Need: tiny start-up business is redoing inside of small building and owners find they don’t have the skills to do parts of the work

Solution: ask the community to participate in exchange for small vouchers ($10) to be redeemed when business opens (community eagerly jumps in, vouchers redeemed, business takes off with sense of community ownership).

 

Rad Resource: Learn more from my book, Bridging the Gap Between Asset/Capacity Building and Needs Assessment.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Needs Assessment (NA) TIG Week with our colleagues in the Needs Assessment Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our NA TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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I’m Maurya West Meiers, Senior Evaluation Officer at the World Bank and coauthor of A Guide to Assessing Needs: Essential Tools for Collecting Information, Making Decisions, and Achieving Development Results.

Recently in my Virginia neighborhood, community leaders and members held a charrette. You ask, what is a charrette (or charette)? Charrettes are gatherings (often time-bound and intense, with emphasis on a final push) of stakeholders to vision and map out solutions, while at the same time trying to resolve conflicts and obstacles to those solutions. It’s said to be derived from the French word for chariot or cart, and has its history traced to the word used when 19th century Parisian architectural students put their work into a cart – often in a rush – to transport to an exhibition or evaluation.   Today charrettes are used in urban planning and design processes, usually with communities, and with groups ‘carting’ ideas and information to one another. The charrette process will often bring people and groups together with the goal of getting them moving quickly from investigation to decisions. This is especially helpful when they might otherwise get stuck in the process – sometimes for months or years.

How does it work? While there are many commonalities, there is no standard structure for charrettes. They are unique to the problem and group. They usually involve a facilitated process with larger groups breaking into subgroups. The subgroups work separately to understand the issues, brainstorm, and eventually come to decisions and design solutions. The subgroups then rejoin in a large group to share the subgroups’ work and generate dialogue and some initial decisions. Through this process, multiple interests and information are shared and explored. The process then continues, potentially over multiples sessions. Together members “work on the work” together, which is meant to enhance ownership, move past obstacles, and come to joint decisions.   In community and urban planning situations, it’s not surprising that charrettes are seen to be a good tool where consensus is needed to get to workable solutions.

For those working on needs assessments – which emphasizes determining gaps, causes to those gaps, optimal results, and potential solutions – the charrette process can be another ‘tool’ in the toolbox to explore. In my research on charrettes and related community visioning exercises, I’ve gathered a range of resources from those who have used them and hope you find them useful in your work.

Rad Resources:

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Needs Assessment (NA) TIG Week with our colleagues in the Needs Assessment Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our NA TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

Don’t scroll down! Don’t hit back button yet, read this first! My name is Ryan Watkins and I am a professor at George Washington University. Whereas many aspects of a needs assessment parallels an evaluation, the making of recommendations about what to do next is often a new challenge for us when we move from the back-end to the front-end of project (or program) design. Needs assessments, by definition, do however require that we not only identify and measure the “needs”, but that we also make recommendations about what to in order to satisfy (or partially satisfy) those needs in the future.

The good news is that there are many tools that can help us through the challenges of making these difficult choices. And yes, these are typically very complex decisions without any clear “best” options. The nature of these decisions is that we must forecast the future and what results we can reasonably expect of various alternatives. Foresight is never an exact science and it does present some risks to our projects and institutions. But making recommendations is a distinguishing characteristic of needs assessments.Watkins

The systems theory principle of equifinality tells us, however, that for any result we want to achieve (or need we want to satisfy) there is always more than one way to get there. Therefore we must know about our options and make choices among competing alternatives – which is typically not an easy task. To succeed, and to end our needs assessment with valuable recommendations about what to do next, we should balance our rational decision-making with our value-based decision-making.

Rad Resources:

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Needs Assessment (NA) TIG Week with our colleagues in the Needs Assessment Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our NA TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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