Welcome to the American Evaluation Association
Needs Assessment (NA) Topical Interest Group (TIG)

(maintained in partnership with NeedsAssessment.org)

Needs assessment can be described as...

  • A process for identifying the knowledge and skills necessary for achieving organizational goals (Brinkerhof & Gill, 1994),
  • A process for pinpointing reasons for gaps in performance or a method for identifying new and future performance (Gupta, Sleezer, & Russ-Eft, 2006),
  • A method of finding out the nature and extent of performance problems and how they can be solved (Molenda, Pershing, & Reigeluth, 1996),
  • The process for pinpointing reasons for gaps in performance or a method for identifying new and future performance needs (Gupta, 1999), or...
  • A systematic approach with defined series of phases that gathers data by means of established procedures and methods for a specific purpose (Witken & Altschuld, 1995).

Needs assessments (NA) are based on a rich body of literature, often comparing and contrasting needs assessment to other evaluation approaches and methods. The NA TIG is an active group of professionals that both study and apply needs assessment theories and models in a variety of settings -- from health care to economics. For additional information on needs assessment you can also visit NeedsAssessment.org, a comprehensive resource site on the topic.

Most years, members of the NA TIG contributed essays to AEA 365. Each essay offers a unique perspective on needs assessment and is linked below:

AEA365: Jim Altschuld on Tips for Asset-based Thinking when Doing Needs Assessments

AEA365: Ryan Watkins on Needs Assessment: Making Recommendations

AEA365: Ingrid Guerra-Lopez on Design-Oriented Needs Assessment: Transitioning from Problem Definition to Solution Design

AEA365: Hsin-Ling (Sonya) Hung on Key Ingredients for a Simple Needs Assessment Recipe

AEA365: Maurya West Meiers on Identifying and Staying in Touch with Your Needs Assessment Stakeholders and Informants

AEA365: Ryan Watkins on Planning to Measure Needs

AEA365: Sue Hamann on Tips for Novice Needs Assessors

AEA365: Hsin-Ling (Sonya) Hung on Needs Assessment and Decision-making

AEA365: James Altschuld on Hybrid Vigor – It’s not just Needs Assessment or Asset/Capacity Building

AEA365: Lisle Hites on Conducting a Needs Assessment on HIV/AIDS Issues in the South

AEA365: Roger Kaufman on Needs Assessment

AEA365: Overcoming Five Obstacles to a Successful Needs Assessment 

AEA365: Including Intended Service Recipients in Needs Assessment and Program Planning

AEA365: Planning and Managing Your Needs Assessment

AEA365: Lessons Learned: Use the 3 Phase Model

AEA365: Five Must Read Articles on Needs Assessment



For practitioners, students, researchers, and others who are interested in the topic of needs assessment, in partnership with the NeedsAssessment.org, we have created an email group (listserv).  You can post questions, share articles, and find experts by posting to this mailing list.

To Join: 

Send an email to needsassessment-request@freelists.org with the subject line "Subscribe".

To Manager Your Subscription: 



You can always learn about upcoming workshops and conference sessions at: http://needsassessment.org 


Needs Assessment TIG Presentations and Workshops

2017 Conference Proposal Submission

The 2017 Annual AEA Conference will be in Washington DC, November 6th - 11th. We are looking forward to needs assessment specific proposals related to this year’s theme of: From Learning to Action. We encourage TIG members to submit proposals by 11:59 Pm ET, March 18th, 2017.

The number of submissions in part determines how much the Needs Assessment TIG is represented at the conference.  Be sure to select the Needs Assessment TIG for review of your proposal as part of the submission process.

We are particularly interested in submissions that interpret the conference theme in the context of needs assessment. Presentations that tie into this theme may be showcased through the presidential strand at the conference. Since the work of our TIG members overlaps with other important branches of evaluation we also have the opportunity of co-sponsoring presentations with other TIGs. While you are not limited to these topics, we particularly encourage you to submit proposals on the following themes:

Learning to Enhance Evaluation Practices 

Share evaluation practices, including theories,methods and ethics, or lessons in diverse professional settings. 

Learning What Works and Why

Share evidence of what works and why in public policies, programs, and projects. 

Learning from Others 

Share innovations from other communities that have been or could be incorporated into evaluation practice. 

Learning About Evaluation Users and Uses 

Share your insights on users of our evaluations, our place in policy decision-making, and effective strategies to increase evaluation utilization. 

You can review these and other presentations and papers from conferences at the AEA eLibrary to get ideas.

Recent Publications By NA TIG Members

Altschuld, J.W. (2014) Bridging the Gap between Asset/Capacity Building and Needs Assessment:  Concepts and Practical ApplicationsSage Publications; Thousand Oaks, CA. 

Altschuld, J. W., & Kumar, D. D. (2010) The Needs Assessment KIT - Book 1, Needs Assessment: An Overview. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Altschuld, J. W., & Eastmond, J. N. Jr.  (2010). The Needs Assessment KIT - Book 2, Phase I: Getting Started. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Altschuld, J. W.  (2010). The Needs Assessment KIT - Book 3, Phase II: Collecting Data. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Altschuld, J. W., & White, J. L. (2010). The Needs Assessment KIT - Book 4, Analysis and Prioritization.Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Altschuld, J. W., & Lepicki, T. L. (2010). Needs Assessment in Human Performance Interventions.  In R. Watkins and D. Leigh (Eds.), The Handbook for the Selection and Implementation of Human Performance Interventions, San Francisco: Wiley (Jossey-Bass).

 Kaufman, R. & Guerra-Lopez, I. (2013). Needs Assessment for Organizational Success. Alexandria, VA: ASTD Press.

Watkins, R., West Meiers, M. and Visser, Y. (2012). A Guide to Assessing Needs: Tools for collecting information, making decisions, and achieving development results. Washington, DC: World Bank. (available for free online)

Watkins, R. and Leigh, D. (Eds.) (2009).  The Handbook of Improving Performance in the Workplace - Volume 2: Selecting and Implementing Performance Interventions. San Francisco: Wiley-Jossey/Bass and Silver Spring, MD: ISPI.  (Most chapters available online at Scribd for free)

White, J. and Altschuld, J. (2012). Understanding the ‘‘what should be condition’’ in needs assessment data.  Evaluation and Program Planning, 35(1), 124–132.

If you have addition publications to add, please email them to Ryan Watkins.



The NA TIG members also use LinkedIn to network and share knowledge with others. Join our conversations.

The NA TIG is defined around the application and theory of needs assessment techniques in a variety of evaluation settings. The TIG coordinates its efforts through AEA and is particularly active in the annual conference. To become involved, you must first be a member of AEA and may join up to 5 Topical Interest Groups.  If you are interested in joining the Needs Assessment TIG contact AEA or send an e-mail to the Chair or Co-chair at the links above on the TIG Leadership tab.