Join Jeff Toister for an in-depth discussion in this video Selecting data sources, part of Instructional Design: Needs Analysis.
Once we have our research questions, it's time to select sources of data that will provide the answers we're looking for. There's seemingly endless possible data sources. So this video will focus on several common examples. I'll also share some tips to help you select the right data sources for your project. Generally speaking, it's important to balance cost, convenience and effectiveness when searching for data sources. We've been using an interviewing skills training class as an example throughout this course. The audience for that training includes 50 supervisors.
I could schedule interviews with each of them or observe each one conducting an interview, but that would take too much time and money. A more cost effective way to gather similar data would be to interview and observe a few supervisors to get some general ideas. We could then survey the rest of the potential audience to confirm what we learned. Let's take a look at some typical data sources you might use for a Needs Analysis Project. You may want to download the Data Collection Sources reference sheet from the exercise files for this course. We can get data from audience members through a variety of methods, such as on the job observations, interviews, focus groups, and surveys.
The people who manage our audience can also give us a lot of great information. There may also be existing materials, such as training programs, procedures and policies. Sometimes, external data can be helpful. This includes benchmark studies, industry standards, and professional associations. Subject Matter Experts, or SMEs, are another great source of data since they can provide detailed information about the topic we're training. The company's Human Resources Information System, or HRIS, can provide valuable data such as performance reviews, employee tenure, job descriptions and training records.
Finally, external sources, such as customers or vendors, can often provide us with additional insight. Instructional designers often put their research questions and data sources in a data collection plan that's included in the needs analysis report. This step helps you plan in advance for any data collection needs since you'll often have to rely on other people to help you out. Section 2 of the training needs analysis template contains space for your data collection plan. Let's take a look at our interviewing skills training and see if we can identify data sources for some of our research questions.
The answer our first three questions can probably be found in the company's HRIS system. From the HRIS system, we can learn what are the causes of turnover for employees within their first 90 days. What is the turnover rate for each individual supervisor in the midwest region? Is this turnover rate higher among less experienced supervisors? We also need to learn about the new interviewing process that the HR department is rolling out to all supervisors in the company. Fortunately, we have a contact in the HR department who can help us out with that. Our HR contact is an example of a subject matter expert or SME.
Let's make a list of some other SMEs we may need to make contact with. The regional recruiter is responsible for identifying and screening candidates that the supervisor's interviewing, so she can tell us about the process from her perspective. The regional managers oversee the supervisors, so they'll also have some valuable insights to share. They can also tell us what's worked well with other training programs in the past. Finally, the vice presidents of other regions can tell us what they're doing to help supervisors with interviewing skills. There are a few questions we won't be able to answer until we gather our initial data.
This includes determining whether two hours is enough time for the training. We'll put some of those questions to the side for now and come back to them later once we have more information. The remaining questions can be answered by going straight to our audience, the supervisors.
- Setting project objectives
- Identifying the target audience for training
- Selecting data sources
- Facilitating focus groups and interviews
- Designing effective surveys
- Identifying participant needs
- Defining learning outcomes
- Presenting results to project sponsors