Evaluate programs

Needs evaluation

Needs evaluation is typically used in program planning. This evaluation helps determine which program aspects or activities are most needed and for which population. Generally, this method is used to help develop new programs or justify existing program components.

Suggested uses

Needs evaluation is a systematic program planning tool that can help you to:

Questions addressed by a needs evaluation might include:

Planning and implementation

One way to create a needs evaluation plan is to complete a simple matrix adapted from Witkin and Altshuld (1995). After listing all program goals/objectives in the first column, complete each column from left to right beginning with the What should be column. The column descriptions will help clarify the process. Once your plan is in place, choose data gathering methods best suited to implement your plan. The matrix also is a good way to summarize findings and recommendations for decision makers.

Applying results

An important part of any needs evaluation focuses on identifying solutions and how to implement them to solve the needs of students, clients, or program participants


UT Austin Fine Arts Library facility needs evaluation
User needs assessment and evaluation for the UC Berkeley Electronic Environmental Library Project: a preliminary report

Additional information

Altschuld, J.W. and B.R. Witkin. (1999). From Needs Assessment to Action: Transforming needs into solution strategies. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Russ-Eft, D. and H. Preskill. (2001). Evaluation in Organizations: A systematic approach to enhancing learning, performance, and change. New York: Basic Books.

Witkin, B.R. and J.W. Altschuld. (1995). Planning and Conducting Needs Assessment: A practical guide. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Page last updated: Sep 21 2011
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