Unit 4 – Action Learning Methods of Needs Assessment Analysis and Assessment Planning for Systems Changes

INTRODUCTION Action learning is a crucial method of systemic inquiry into the complexity of needs-based community issues and assessment planning for systems changes. Such systems changes might be needed because sources of community data can have an enormous impact on many aspects of organizational assets, the capacity of programmed knowledge managements, capacity of service professionals, and capacity of service delivery systems. Programmed knowledge management might be structured with inappropriate techniques or transitional systems of service delivery coupled with inherent weakness in meeting community needs, and thus might need a new process of learning capacities.

Reginald Revans (1983) suggested that the capacity of learning process can be expressed by the action learning equation as: Learning (L) = P + Q; where L is learning, P is programmed (traditional) knowledge management, and Q is questioning to create new or renewed insight. For instance, the sources of community data may offer insight that can suggest the acquisition of new programmed knowledge management to shape organizational capacity of service delivery systems.

The service delivery systems can be rooted in the community because not only they might have the interests and involvement of those who use the services, but also might be service linked to providing services and programs to their various constituencies. Therefore, the action learning methods of needs-based inquiry can serve as the precursor and hallmark for bridging the gap identified by sources of community data between organizational assets and capacity building of needs assessment issues for assessment planning for systems changes.

We can define many good sources of community data, but we need to be careful about appearance of bias, relying too much on traditional data, or collecting the wrong data due to lack of insight. There is a lot to be learned not only from the academic literature, but also from the use of action learning methods of inquiry no matter how much we think that this is our community problem. Here is an example:

When the Welfare to Work project was first introduced in the 1990s, the assumption in government agencies was that everyone—even the hardest core welfare recipients—would become employed workers given the right stimuli. Those stimuli would be the right training needs in job skills, the right job placement support, and the right support services for things such as child care. However, while the U.S. Congress overhauled the welfare program and replaced it with the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program subject to work requirements, a majority of welfare recipients who moved into the workforce could not enter into the economic mainstream of the society.

Although the academic literature might have proved differently, sources of community data generated from community- based stakeholders might provide another interesting trend in the current state of affairs to enhance the training capacity of programmed knowledge managements. In fact, the literature—before Welfare to Work was implemented, already known in research circles, and since confirmed again—stated that based on past performance, 15 percent of this population would return to work with very little support services required. Another 50 percent of that original total needed additional support but could be working in a few months.

But what could the rest of current sources of community data gathered from stakeholders also suggest to compliment the assessment planning for systems changes of the Welfare to Work project? The rest were the hard-core unemployed, and thus necessitated other components of training needs to advance career opportunities. Thus, without current stakeholder data to inform training component needs to be given additional child care, job skills training, and job placement, they would still be unemployed or perhaps, remained below the poverty level. For instance, perceptions among community- based stakeholders suggest that most people who moved from welfare to workforce are either paid a minimum wage or below the minimum wage because they lack the educational qualifications and job skills to acquire higher paying positions.

Therefore, the assessment planning for systems changes could be a consideration for what might happen if the success factor for this project from a public administrator’s perspective was full employment, converting all of these folks to employed positions. For these reasons, it is imperative to think about the action learning questions you need to ask, the academic literature you need to gather, and sources of community data from stakeholders to make better decisions as you explore this unit.

Reference Revans, R. W. (1983). The ABC of action learning. Burlington, VT: Chartwell-Bratt.


To successfully complete this learning unit, you will be expected to:

1. Evaluate the effectiveness of programmed knowledge management to determine current action learning needs.

2. Assess literature-based data gathering methods as one of the components of public needs assessments.

3. Devise an action learning mechanism for gathering other sources of community data from stakeholders on the current state of community needs to support needs assessment projects.

4. Apply action learning methods of systemic inquiry to develop assessment planning tools for systems changes to address community-based problems.

5. Design effective action learning of needs assessment analysis to gain insight into new information not yet obvious on a public problem.


Note: Be certain to read the unit introduction, as it may contain important information and references pertaining to this

unit’s content and activities.

Use your Bridging the Gap Between Asset/Capacity Building and Needs Assessment text to read Chapter 4, “Step 4 in the Hybrid Framework,” pages 81–104.

Use your ABC of Action Learning library e-book to complete the following: Read Chapter 1, “The Characteristic Assumptions of Action Learning,” pages 1–15. Read Chapter 2, “Essential Logistics,” pages 17–39.

Use the library to complete the following:

a. Read Dunford’s 2000 article, “Why Things Go Wrong . . .,” from Mobile Radio Technology , volume 18, issue 10, page 16.

b. Read Ferreira and Abbad’s 2013 article, “Training Needs Assessment: Where We Are and Where We Should Go,” from Brazilian Administration Review, volume 10, issue 1, pages 77–99.

c. Read Grant’s 2002 article, “Learning Needs Assessment: Assessing the Need,” from British Medical Journal , volume 324, issue 7330, pages 156–159.

d. Read Downey and Anyaegbunam’s 2010 article, “Your Lives Through Your Eyes: Rural Appalachian Youth Identify Community Needs and Assets Through the Use of Photovoice,” from Journal of Appalachian Studies , volume 16, issue 1/2, pages 42–61.

e. Read Freedman’s 2011 article, “Using Action Learning for Organization Development and Change,” from OD Practitioner, volume 43, issue 2, pages 7–13.

Article Search Locate at least two current articles from peer-reviewed literature to support your selected community needs assessment project. You will use these articles in the first discussion in this unit and for your final assignment.

U4D2 – Action Learning Methods and Assessment Planning Tools Imagine you had all the right people in the room and did all of the right data gatherings. However, you did not ask the right action learning questions to gain insights into stakeholder information that can suggest the acquisition of new programmed knowledge management to shape organizational capacity of service delivery systems? Here is your chance to think about what you need to know.

Based on the guidelines in your Bridging the Gap Between Asset/Capacity Building and Needs Assessment text, ABC Learning e-book, and other sources you can cite, what is the action learning questions that you should ask on the assessment planning tools for systems changes to address your community-based problems? What would you like to know but cannot figure out how to ask? This will build toward your the final assignment. List some action learning and assessment planning questions, and define what you would like to know but do not know how to ask.


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