|Teach Your Best - A Handbook for University Lecturers|
|CHAPTER 2 - TECHNIQUES OF NEEDS ASSESSMENT IN UNIVERSITY TEACHING|
Without any form of needs assessment, education becomes teacher-oriented and directed. With the appropriate use of needs assessment you become a facilitator and your students will be more committed to their own and others' development. Needs assessment should, therefore, be an integral part of any university course. There are many reasons for conducting needs assessment at this level and many benefits. The overall purpose, though, is to obtain information so that you can better determine the nature, extent and priority of educational needs to develop courses that foster better teaching and learning.
There are three levels of needs assessment but we have focussed on the course level as being the most crucial for your everyday teaching, research and community service. The need to plan your assessment was emphasized. Outline the objectives, target group, focus of the assessment, type of data you intend to gather, the sources of data and the techniques you are going to use. Choose a technique you are comfortable with and that provides you with the required information. To obtain as complete and unbiased data as possible it was also suggested that triangulation should be an in-built component of your needs assessment.
Lastly, it is well worth spending some time to compile a brief report. This allows you to organize the data, draw conclusions and consider the implications of the findings. These should be shared as widely as possible with your colleagues, the administration if necessary, and your students.
To respond to the growing concern for quality university teaching and learning, to work out appropriate ways to meet the needs of the students and the community, needs assessment is one of the best tools you can use. It will increase the relevance of your courses and may be conducted, as we have seen, by relatively simple methods.