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Foundations of Instructional and Performance Technology by Yonnie Chyung

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Chapter 8. Front-End Analysis 121
Front-End Analysis
The early stage
of an analysis
In the analysis phase, a series of analyses are conducted before reaching
a
conclusion about the most appropriate interventions to address a performance
issue. The term front-end analysis is often used to refer to this phase.
Harless (1973) explains that front-end analysis is a procedure for asking
various questions up front to analyze performance issues and to determine
effective interventions. Terms such as needs assessment, needs analysis, an
d
p
erformance analysis are used as synonyms, but different authors explain the
terms slightly differently. For example:
The term needs assessment is often used to refer to a series of analyses tha
t
are conducted up front. But it can also be used to refer to a training needs
assessment (Rossett, 1987), conducted “when the instructional technologis
t
is trying to respond to a request for assistance” (Rossett, 1995, p. 184).
A needs assessment is also “the process for identifying needs and placing
them in priority order on the basis of what it costs to meet the need,
versus what it costs to ignore it” (Kaufman, 1994, p. 14). This view
emphasizes the assessment of performance-oriented needs and is open to
many possible interventions (instead of assuming training as the pre-
selected intervention).
Different authors define needs analysis differently. According to
Kaufman (1994), a needs analysis is “the process of determining the
reasons and causes for a need so that appropriate interventions may be
identified and later selected” (p. 14). According to Molenda, Pershing,
and Reigeluth (1996), a needs analysis includes the steps of determining
p
erformance deficiencies and identifying the source(s) of those
deficiencies.
Performance analysis is the process of “determining the organization’s
p
erformance requirements in light of its objectives and its capabilities”
(Rosenberg, 1996,
p
. 377). Performance analysis is conducted to reveal
a
p
erformance opportunity or problem, and it may lead to a lengthie
r
training needs assessment if instruction is identified as a solution
(Rossett, 1999).
Front-end
analysis
This chapter explains the process of front-end analysis as Harless defines it,
and presents a case study. The term front-end analysis will be used to refer to
the procedure that includes phases of performance analysis, cause analysis,
and intervention selection, as presented in the HPT model.
122 Foundations of Instructional and Performance Technology
Joe Harless’s Front-End Analysis
Front-end
analysis vs.
back-end
analysis
Joe Harless is credited with coining the term front-end analysis in his boo
k
An Ounce of Analysis Is Worth a Pound of Objectives, originally published in
1970 (Harless, 1975). The purpose of conducting a front-end analysis (FEA)
can be clearly explained when it is compared to the practice of conducting
a
back-end analysis—that is, an evaluation. As practitioners start recognizing
a
problem associated with instructional outcomes, they might ask themselves,
“Why didn’t training produce the performance that we expected to see?
Several possible hypotheses can be formulated:
Perhaps the training objectives were not relevant to the trainee’s
real-world needs. Perhaps the training activities did not simulate
the real world as closely as possible. Perhaps there was something
in the environment that prevented the trainees from exhibiting the
learned behavior on the job. (Harless, 1988, p. 43)
Or perhaps training should not have been delivered in the first place, because
it was not an appropriate solution to the performance problem. To avoi
d
providing unnecessary training, practitioners should conduct a front-en
d
analysis and ask various questions that help determine the nature of the
p
erformance problem and find root causes. In fact, Harless (1973) argues that
“FEA seeks to avoid instruction whenever possible” (p. 239).
However, front-end analysis and evaluation are both important. By conduct-
ing front-end analysis as well as evaluation, we have a complete cycle
through the ADDIE steps. As shown in Figure 23, evaluation is conducted to
reveal whether or not the performance problems identified during a front-en
d
analysis have been solved, and the evaluation data will be used during the
next phase of front-end analysis.
Figure 23. Relationship of front-end analysis and evaluation.

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