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"If you do not know where you are going you will end up somewhere else'

(1) Identify The Issue / Problem / Needs

�(2) Form Curriculum Development Team
�(3) Conduct Needs Assessment and Analysis


"There is an island of opportunity in the middle of every difficulty."

After reviewing this step, you should be able to identify contributing factors to the issue or problem and develop a broad issue or need statement.

The very first step in the curriculum development process is to clearly state the issue that prompted the initiation of a curriculum development effort.

Broad population education issue:

Overpopulation is a prime factor in many countries with slow economic development. The rate of agricultural production cannot keep up with the population growth rate. The result is food shortages, lack of employment opportunities, and strains on natural resources (land and water) and the infra­structure (roads, transportation, electricity, etc.). There is a need for better population education, especially in the rural areas, aimed at lowering the size of families.

Although this statement identifies the essence of the issue, the negative effect of overpopulation on economic growth and a remedy (population education), it requires further analysis and refinement to serve as a guide for curriculum development.

An issue statement should indicate:

  • who is affected or involved,

  • the scope of the problem (issue) to be addressed by the curriculum, and

  • the consequences.

An issue statement should not:

  • describe impacts of potential programs,

  • define a programmatic response to an issue, or

  • be a positive statement about the future. (USDA/ES, 1992)

The issue/problem/need statement should describe the issue in the clearest and simplest language possible, (i.e., in a way the community (state or nation) would recognize it as their own). One approach to further refinement is to analyze the factors contributing to the problem. First ask: "What are the contributing factors to this issue?"

Contributing Factors;

  • population education is not available to rural out-of-school youth;

  • lack of knowledge about methods! to limit family size;

  • cultural/religious/social value of having many children;

  • lack of skill in decision making and communicating with spouse; and

  • lack of knowledge about the effect of family size on lifestyle.

Additional questions to help define the scope of the issue include:

* What is the most pressing problem in this issue?
* How or where can programs and/or curriculum materials make a difference?
* Who else is working on this issue? Are there specific areas of the issue where others have specialized to meet certain needs?
* Where can cooperating organizations and/or agencies contribute to make a significant difference?
* In what sequence should these problems be addressed? Where should we start?
* Who are the target audiences?
* Why is each audience significant?
* Can this target audience effect the issue? Or are they effected by it?
* Should audiences be reached in a particular sequence to effectively address this issue?
Population Education Analysis

A review of existing population education in many developing countries indicates family planning clinics provide information and training on family size. Population education has also been added to secondary school curricula. However, in many countries very few rural youth attend secondary school. For example, in Africa it is estimated that only 10% of the population reach secondary school. Therefore, the target audience would logically be rural out-of-school youth. They are least likely to have access to the information.

The focus of the concern in this case is on "addressing concerns about the relationship between population growth and the achievement of development goals, particularly those in the areas of integrated rural development and sustainable agricultural production. It is intended for use with out-of-school rural youth (future parents and producers) to help them understand the effects of rapid population growth and the need for responsible parenthood" (FAO, 1990).

These statements identify the issues to be addressed and outline the scope of the curriculum to be developed (i.e., population growth in relation to integrated rural development and sustainable agricultural production) for rural out-of-school youth. They can be used to help secure either public or private funding support. The issue statement can help guide the types of expertise needed on the curriculum development team. From the population education statements, we would expect to include experts on: rural out-of-school youth programs and organizations; health and nutrition; sustainable agricultural; and integrated rural development. The targeted audience is identified as rural out-of-school youth.

The goal is to reach these youth before they establish families and have children. Using an integrated approach to population education, through curriculum activities, they will understand how overpopulation effects the environment. They will have the knowledge, attitudes, skills, and behavior needed to make wise decisions about their family size.

A thorough discussion of how to develop intended outcome statements is included in Step 4. A sample intended outcome statement for population education might be:

Population Education Sample Intended Outcome:

Through completion of the population education curriculum, rural out-of-school youth will be able to identify factors affecting overpopulation and apply this knowledge to determine their own family size.


"None Of Us Is As Smart As All Of Us"

After reviewing this step, you should be prepared to:

Curriculum Development Team Selection

No single individual has all the skills to design and develop curriculum materials. Curriculum teams usually include educational designers, subject matter experts, youth development/ human development specialists, writers for youth, graphic designers, youth artists, editors, members of the target audience - the "users" of the curriculum (students, teachers, volunteer leaders, etc.). Depending on the scope of the project and the funding sources, key policy and funding decision makers may also need to be involved. For example, if the Extension field staff train facilitators, Extension decision makers need to support the effort and may need to be directly involved on the committee. Funding source representatives may also request to be involved.

As the ultimate end users of the curriculum, youth should be fully involved as members of the team. Youth participation does require special attention. The goal of youth participation in the planning process must be clearly understood by all. The purpose is to incorporate youth perceptions, ideas, and creativity to help make the end product relevant to youth. All team members need to encourage youth to speak-up and participate as full contributing members of the team. In many cultures, this is a big leap from usual practices (youth are to be seen and not heard). Just as adult members need to think about and encourage youth participation, youth team members need to be prepared for active participation. They are often overwhelmed or intimidated by the experience of representing their peers to adults.

"The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal theirs to them". Benjamin Disraeli

Another consideration, when selecting members of the team, is the expertise needed for the scope of the project. This is particularly important when an integrated systems approach is taken and expertise is needed from a number of subject areas.

In the example of population evocation, individuals with expertise in health and nutrition, gender issues, human (youth) development experiential education methods, agriculture and rural development, economic, and environmental aspects of population education would all be yout, expertise is the area may also be helpful, "It takes a whole village to raise a child, "The development of curriculum to address the "whole environment" in which a young person makes decisions about his or her life requires an integrated approached. Thus a broad spectrum of expertise is needed.

An effective way to ensure that groups and persons who need to be included in the curriculum development team are represented is to use an issues grid. (Used with permission from National 4-H Council, see Addendum A ). The grid provides a systematic way to identify and ensure a representative for each issue component is included among the members of the team. Instructions and a population education example is included in Addendum A.

Once the curriculum development team members have been identified, their strengths should be assessed to determine if members of the team have the expertise and skills required to create the curriculum. Any gaps should be filled early in the process so decisions include the whole spectrum of the content and methods. Review the grid example. Are there others who should be included? Have you identified qualified or experienced curriculum writers? Is someone skilled in evaluation procedures?

An important aspect of team building is being clear about the goals and objectives of the project as well as the roles and responsibilities of team members. The goals of the project are identified prior to selecting team members. Goals should be communicated with potential team members prior to their acceptance to serve as a team member. Use the issue statement and adapt it to the overview of the curriculum development process for your specific project. The more specific you can be about the expectations and responsibilities of team members, the greater chance for successful teamwork. A sample job description for a curriculum development project is included in the Addendum B.

Collaboration Principles

"Coming together is a beginning....Keeping together is progress. ...Working together is a success".

Traditions, values, cultural and religious practices, social pressures, gender, and generational differences all contribute to diversity in beliefs and opinions regarding family size and sexual practices. Because of these differences, the process of designing population education curriculum will require a focus and commitment to shared goals collaboration skills. An excellent self-study resource on collaboration by Halbert and Hovey (1995) is included in the reference section. Though it focuses on collaboration in land use issues, the basic principles can readily be applied to population education and curriculum development teams.

Additional information on collaboration is included in Addendum A. After completing the above referenced self-study book, one may expect to:

* know several techniques that help a group gather and fosters group collaboration,
* understand and be able to apply several ways to develop trust in a group,
* appreciate the significance of "I messages" and develop your own method for monitoring personal "I" messages in a group situation,
* understand significant characteristics of real life collaborations and share them with others,
* recognize problems associated with leaving persons or groups affected by an issue out of a collaboration and learn ways to ensure that collaborative groups are inclusive,
* recognize developmental group stages and how to meet the needs of the group as it progresses through these stages.

"Teamwork is the ability to work toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishment toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results."


"Start with what people already know and build on what they already have."

After reviewing the procedures in this step, curriculum team members will understand how to conduct a needs assessment and use the results to formulate intended outcomes.

Curriculum development was described as the process of determining who will be taught what and how. The needs assessment and analysis step in curriculum development systematically focuses on learning about an issue or problem and the people who are directly effected by it. A needs assessment provides the information to determine outcomes (educational objectives) based on a factual foundation and learners needs. A needs assessment also provides baseline data to evaluate the achievement of intended outcomes. The goal is to have those who are most directly affected by issues and problems define them, isolate the contributing factors, and suggest solutions.

Wentling, (FAO, 1993) defines a problem (issue) as the gap between desired behavior (what should be known and/or done) and actual performance (behavior).



- Actual = NEED

(What Should Be)

- (What Is) = GAP

The needs assessment process identifies the nature and scope of the gap. An underlying principle is to "start with what people already know and build on what they already have." The first task then is to establish what the target audience knows, their attitudes about the issues and contributing factors, and their practices. Without this information, intended outcomes and content are unlikely to address the needs of the target audience.

This step is subdivided into two parts: 1) procedures for conducting a needs assessment and 2) needs analysis. The results of the assessment are used to state intended outcomes and form evaluation strategies. After reviewing the procedures in this step. curriculum team members will understand how to conduct a needs assessment and use the results to formulate intended outcomes.

Needs Assessment Procedures

Needs assessment procedures include surveys and interviews conducted with members of the targeted audience and members in their communities. Members of the curriculum design team should be directly involved with gathering data. It is helpful to have a team member experienced in survey design and evaluation. Team involvement in the assessment process produces content and methods relevant to the needs of the target audience. Similarly, if members from the target audience and potential facilitators are involved, the curriculum will be meaningful and relevant.

KAP (i.e., Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices) is a needs assessment method developed by R. Adhikarya (FAO, 1994). It focuses on specific and critical elements of an issue and the knowledge, attitude, and practice levels of target audiences. The process gathers qualitative information about the target audience and the issues effecting them. The reasons for attitudes and practices are discussed through focus groups, interviews and surveys. Information provided by a KAP survey is useful to formulate intended outcomes, to select content, and to design methods to meet the needs of the targeted audience.

The KAP survey generates information for four major steps in the curriculum development process:
  1. Members of the targeted audience are consulted and provide information regarding their needs in relation to a specific problem;

  2. Intended outcomes can be stated to relate to the specific needs of the targeted audience;

  3. Baseline data can be used in formative evaluations to test the appropriateness of content and methods; and

  4. A summative evaluation can compare baseline data to the outcomes from implemented curriculum.

A needs assessment identifies the target audience and the knowledge, attitude, and practice gaps. A needs assessment is conducted in five basic steps:

  1. Conduct focus 2roup discussions with key informants (leaders in the community) and with target audience groups (i.e., rural out-of-school youth). The goals are to identify the key audience and their characteristics (i.e., the predetermined audience does not apply to all cases); identify major problems areas (e.g., overpopulation issues); determine the causes of the problems; and generate possible solutions.

Sample Population Education Questions:

  1. What do you feel are the major issues or problems confronting rural out-of-school youth?

  2. What are the causes of these problems?

  3. How do they relate to overpopulation issues?

  4. What gaps (the difference between desired performance and actual practice) do you think exist in population related knowledge, attitudes, and practices among rural out-of-school youth?

  5. What are some possible solutions?

  6. Are there other major areas of concern or problems?

  1. Identify major topics related to rural out-of-school youth from focus group discussions.

A Sample of Population Education Issue Topics:

  • Agricultural Production} Large family farms are divided equally among many children resulting in small farms with insufficient income to support a family.

  • Environment; Forests art destroyed to provide additional land for agricultural production.

  1. Develop a survey on the topics of concern generated that focus on target audience levels of knowledge, attitudes, and practices. The survey could be used in focus groups or in one-on-one interviews. Before you use the survey, test it to make sure the questions are valid (i.e., they ask what they are intended to ask) and the responses are meaningful. For example, a common survey mistake is to ask more than one question in a question (e.g., Do you know and practice eating balanced nutritional meals?). This makes no sense. What am I trying to find out? Do I want to know if you know what constitutes a balanced meal or if you eat balanced nutritional meals? Sample questions in each area (knowledge, attitudes, and practices) might include:

  2. Sample KAP Population Education Survey Questions:

    Knowledge Question:

    • In planning for your future, what employment opportunities do you have in this community?

    Attitude Question:

    • What is your idea of the ideal family size?

    • What are the major reasons you would like that size family?

    Practices Question:

    • Do you use some method of family planning (contraception) ?

    • If yes, which method? Why or Why not?


    1. Conduct additional focus groups and interviews with members of the target group and community leaders. It is important to train interviewers how to ask questions and record responses. It is probably best to avoid pen and pencil surveys because the audience in our example is out-of-school youth. In cases where surveys are appropriate (i.e., the target audience could adequately complete the survey), they provide a quick and relatively inexpensive way to get information about the characteristics of the audience (demographic data) and identify trends in issues. But surveys cannot probe deeper or ask additional questions as an interviewer might. The value in conducting focus groups and interviews is that the respondents will often mention issues and concerns omitted from survey questions. Remember the goal is to learn more about the target audience and the factors contributing to the issue or problem. Start with the end in mind. This information will be used to develop intended outcomes and to establish baseline data for a summative evaluation.

    2. Tabulate the results of the survey and interviews. Look for the factors or causes for the problem in terms of Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices. According to Wentling,

    "There are three broad reasons why people don't behave as expected or desired:

    Lack of:

    • Knowledge or skills;

    • Motivation;

    • Organization and Environment" (FAO, 1993).

    If a reason for not following certain practices is organizational or environmental (including cultural and/or moral values), it would be inappropriate to develop curriculum materials to change behavior when education and training will not make a difference. For example, if an area is overpopulated and the dominant religious belief forbids the use of contraceptives, it is a misuse of resources to develop curriculum to teach about contraceptives and family planning techniques. One can not expect the intended outcomes to occur (i.e., to reduce population through the use of contraceptives) by educational programs when the barrier is organizational policy. A correctly conducted needs assessment would identify such problems long before intended outcomes are formulated.

    Another method to assess needs is the Delphi technique. A representative panel of experts or leaders in the community (including members of the target audience) are asked to list the factors or aspects of an issue (e.g., overpopulation). A composite list is compiled from all the lists and each panel member votes on their top priority items. The results are tabulated and panel members are asked to vote again on their top priorities. This process is repeated until the prioritized list is agreed upon by the panel members. The advantage of this technique is that many aspects of the issue are explored and a number of people have been involved in identi­fying and prioritizing aspects of the issue. It provides a prioritized list of factors involved in the issue from the perspective of a number of people (both community and experts).

    Town or village meetings can be conducted to obtain input on major issues and problems within the community. A recorder or objective observer takes notes of the discussion to be analyzed later. The advantages of using this technique is its inclusiveness and community involvement through a public forum. The major disadvantage is that people who feel comfortable speaking in public and have strong opinions are heard while others who may be intimidated by numbers or by stronger opinions are not

    Characteristics of Learners

    Part of the data gathered in a needs assessment should include information about the target audience. If the curriculum is to meet the needs of the target audience, it must be sensitive to their characteristics. Demographic information will need to include level of education, previous training, age, residence, marital status, children (if any), number of siblings, means of income, and aspirations for the future (e.g., lifestyle and career goals, number of children desired, etc.). To design appropriate curriculum materials, the target audience stage of human development should be considered.

    Human development refers to how individuals grow and develop in stages; physically, socially, emotionally, mentally, and vocationally. Developmental theories suggest particular types of learning and developmental needs or traits occur at particular stages. They also suggest particular types of learning activities are most suitable for each stage. For example, young children learn best through concrete experience, manipulation of materials, and observation of their environment while young adults understand abstract concepts and analyze events that have multiple causes and effects. Many resources provide thorough descriptions of different stages and the implications of these stages for learning. Since this guide is focused on young adults (rural out-of-school youth) their developmental stage (estimated to be about age 15 -19) is described in Addendum C. The first set of characteristics describes the characteristics of this developmental stage. The second set describes adult learners. Characteristics of learners at particular stages is very important in activity design. The activity must be appropriate for the stage of development if it is to be effective. The characteristics of adult learners appear to apply for this age, particularly in the non-formal learning settings. The lists of characteristics are taken from the Curriculum Development for Issues Programming (USDA, 1992). It is recommended you adjust and adapt them to specific conditions and cultural settings.

    Analysis of Results of Needs Assessment

    Once the data is collected, characteristics of the target audience and gaps (the difference between desired and actual performance) are identified, it is time to categorize needs. Identify the type of needs by putting them into three categories (i.e., knowledge, attitude, or practices) and prioritize them.

    Identify the areas of greatest concern by the number of times an item is mentioned in the surveys or interviews. Subject matter experts may identify some topics that are not identified by the target audience or key informants in the community. These topics need to be related to the priorities of the target audience to catch their interest and attention. If learners feel there is not a need to know or practice something, they will not change behavior, even though a gap exists between desired performance and actual behaviour (i.e., the level of motivation is very low for change).

    The next curriuclum step translates needs into intended outcomes. It is the first step on Phase II: Content and Methods.

    "If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put foundations under them".

    Henry David Thoreau

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