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Analysis Questions

Picture of the author, Rema Merrick.


Rema Merrick is owner of Enovate Learning LLC. She has 6 + years of experience as an instructional designer and eLearning developer. She received her master of science in Instructional Design from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania.

Audience: Instructional Designers

Read Time: 3 Minutes

The analysis process is a key component of any instructional design project. This process allows the instructional designer to gather important data to create a learning solution that gets the desired result. This article identifies questions instructional designers can ask to gather this data. This is not a complete list but it’s a great place to start.

Why Should I Complete an Analysis?

The ADDIE model, an instructional design method used to manage the development process for training projects, outlines the analysis stage as a vital first step. Sometimes this process gets skipped for several reasons. There are tight deadlines to meet. Or, there is a lack of appreciation for the value of this part of the process.

Completing the analysis process helps to avoid pitfalls that could cause the project to fail. During the analysis phase the instructional designer asks questions to discern the following.

  1. Clarify the instructional problem.
  2. Identify the instructional goals.
  3. Outline the audience characteristics.
  4. Identify the skills gap.
  5. Establish the learning environment.

For example, if most learners for a program have little or no computer skills, you may need to deliver an instructor-led course versus a self-paced, eLearning module. Or, you may need to provide computer training prior to delivering a self-paced eLearning module, along with technical support in case the learners get stuck.

If the instructional problem is not clear, the instructional designer may develop a solution that does not fix the problem. For example, a client may have employees who are not following a certain procedure. The client thinks the learners are not following the procedure because they do not know the procedure. The client thinks the solution is to create a course that teaches the employees the procedure. However, after completing a comprehensive root cause analysis, the instructional designer finds out that the employees are following the procedure due to a different reason. The employees know how to complete the procedure but they do not have the correct tools to complete the procedure. Creating a course about how to complete the procedure does not solve the problem. In contrast, providing the employees with the required tools solves the problem.

What Questions Should I Ask?

Ideally, it would be great to complete a thorough analysis, which may include a needs analysis, audience analysis, task analysis and other relevant analysis. However, if your time is limited or if you can’t get buy-in for a full version. Asking the following questions will give you a decent foundation. As I mentioned earlier, this is not a complete list of questions but it’s a great place to start. I usually have this list ready before I start any project. Then, I use the resources available to find the answers to the questions. These resources may include existing content, subject matter experts, the client or other stakeholders.

Here is a list of 20 questions.

Clarify the Instructional Problem
  • What is the instructional problem? What is the employee not doing now that they should be doing? Or what are they doing now that they should not be doing?
  • What is preventing the employee from doing what they should be doing?
  • What solutions could solve the instructional problem? Do they have the tools that they need? Do they understand the procedure? Do they have the right support?
Identify the Instructional Goals
  • What would the project success look like? How will you know the project is successful? For example, the project is successful when the customer service satisfaction levels increase by 25% by the end of the 4th quarter.
  • Are the client’s goals realistic? For example, a client may have a small budget but want a virtual reality solution that the company cannot fund. This is an unrealistic goal.
Outline the Audience Characteristics
  • General: Who is your primary audience (employees/learners)? Are there potential secondary audiences?
  • Demographics: What is the average age of learners? What is the educational background of learners? What is the gender make up of learners? What is the cultural background, language, race and ethnicity of learners?
  • Knowledge and Experience: What is the level of work experience of learners? What is the reading level of learners? How much do learners already know about the subject matter?
  • Technical: What hardware and software can learners access? How technically savvy are learners? What technical resources are available to learners?
  • Expectations: What level of participation can you expect from learners? How much time do learners have to devote to the training? Why are learners motivated to take the training? What tone or attitude is appropriate for the training?
Identify the Skills Gap
  • What are the jobs, skills, procedures, processes, responsibilities or tasks associated with the training? Which titles, positions or jobs are associated with the training?
  • How will you identify the tasks and skills associated with the training? Will you use a task analysis, focus group, subject matter expert interview or other methods of analysis?
  • Who will you interview to gather the information? Do these people actually do the work and are they considered experts or proficient? Do these experts have cheat sheets or short cuts that help them to be proficient?
  • Are there individuals who struggle with the task? Which part of the task do these individuals find challenging?
Establish the Learning Environment
  • What is the best way to present the content to learners?
  • What instructional methods are appropriate for the training? Possible instructional methods may include a lecture, case study, drill-and-practice, software simulation, games, job aid or on-the-job training.
  • How will the training be distributed? Possible distribution methods may include self-paced eLearning using a learning management system, virtual reality platform or virtual instructor-led training.

Key Takeaway

Although often overlooked, completing an analysis of your learning project before you start your design process will help to avoid creating solutions that do not solve the performance problem.

The key points the analysis should address include the following.

  • Clarify the instructional problem.
  • Identify the instructional goals.
  • Identify the audience characteristics.
  • Identify the skills gap.
  • Establish the learning environment.

Download this free Instructional Design Analysis checklist.


LeGault, Nicole. 20 + Questions to Include in an Audience Analysis

20+ Questions To Include in an Audience Analysis – Nicole Legault (nlegault.ca)