Analysis: Planning Your Instruction

Last revised: 09/29/2015 by jap


In this article, we’ll explore analysis techniques for planning instruction.



When starting a new project, we begin by gathering data .  Instructional designers call this phase “analysis.”  It is the first phase in the common instructional design model,  ADDIE (Analysis, Design, Develop, Implement and Evaluate), and it entails four tasks: (1) define instructional goals, (2) determine steps to achieving such goals, (3) identify learners’ entry knowledge and characteristics, and (4) articulate the skills, attitudes and knowledge learners should have by the end of the instructional experience.

Source: Gardner, J. Clark. (2011). The ADDIE Analysis Phase. (YouTube Video). Retrieved September 17. 2015 from

A simple way to look at analysis, when planning instruction, is answering the “who, what, where, when, why and by whom” (Hodell, p3) questions.  For UConn courses, some information is predetermined, such as prerequisites and enrollment caps. However, take time to document all the data, so you can reference it when making course design decisions. Use the following questions as a guide in your analysis:


Why? – Needs Analysis

If the course exists in the University’s catalogue, then a needs analysis (of some sort) was already done. However, take time to understand why the course exists, because it should inform your course design decisions.  Ask:

  • What is/are the course’s instructional goal(s)?
  • What gap in knowledge or skill does the course fulfill for UConn students?
  • How does the course integrate with the university, department, and academic program goals? (UConn, Assessment Primer: Curriculum Mapping)
What? – Instructional Analysis
  • What are the skills and knowledge that students need to achieve the course’s goal(s)?
  • How can the course be broken down into manageable/digestible learning steps/chunks? (Dick, Carey & Carey)
  • What is the nature of the subject? (Fink, p7.)
Who? – Learner Analysis
  • What are the characteristics of the learners (age, profession, background, family life, etc.)?
  • What is the educational level of the learners (lower or upper division, or graduate)?
  • Why are learners taking the course?
  • How will the learners apply the knowledge gained?
  • What do the learners already know about the topic? Prerequisites? Course level?
  • What experience do the learners have with the course delivery mode (if defined)?
  • What level of technical skills do the learners have/need? (Florida Gulf Coast University).
Where? – Learning Environment Analysis
  • How many students can enroll in the course?
  • What is the course delivery mode?  Face-to-face, online, flipped, or blended? Classroom or lab?
  • How will students interact? Synchronously or asynchronously?
  • What physical elements will affect the course? (Fink, p7.)
  • What resources are available to support learning? (technical assistance, teaching assistants, tutoring,etc.)
When? –  Project Analysis & Planning
  • What semester/session will the course be delivered? How many weeks in the semester/session?
  • Will the course be asynchronous or synchronous or a combination? How long and frequent will synchronous meetings be? (Fink, p7.)
  • How much time is there to develop the course?  
  • What essential course elements need to be developed and how long will each take? (Clark, D. Estimating Costs and Time in Instructional Design)
By Whom? – Instructor Analysis
  • What beliefs and values does the instructor have about teaching and learning?
  • What level of knowledge does the instructor have with the course/subject?
  • What strengths in teaching does the instructor have? (Fink, p7.)
  • What time commitment can the instructor give to course development?
  • How familiar with various technologies and delivery modes is the instructor?

Once you have gathered data that has potential to impact your course design decisions, share that information with your instructional designer, as you begin the Design phase of ADDIE together.  If you are not working with an instructional designer, use the Self-Guided Online Course Design and Development resource to begin the design phase.




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