Agricultural Communications, Purdue University
An electronic newsletter with communication tips and information


August 1998


ID Part III--Instructional Goal & Content Analysis

Okay. You've performed a needs assessment for the educational program you're planning and assessed your learners' characteristics (July "On Target"). That lays the foundation for the next ID (instructional design) steps: identifying your instructional goal and selecting and molding your content. Your instructional goal is the aim of your instruction--what you want the participants to get from your educational program. Initially, it can be broad and encompassing, like learning how to play the flute, mastering basic algebra, or performing brain surgery (yes, in this case, it is brain surgery), etc. You can then move toward more specific categorizing.

Reviewing and categorizing the information you're going to cover in your educational program is called "content analysis." It's the process of identifying the essential information that learners have to translate into knowledge, skills, and attitudes, and of making learning more easily manageable.

The first step in content analysis is to take the whole of the subject matter, select what's relevant to your instructional goal, and then break that down into manageable "chunks" of information. Ultimately, you'll deliver these chunks of information in some form (lecture, demonstration, videotape, etc.).

An example of this process would be teaching someone to use a word processor. You might start off with an overview of word processing and then break the process into smaller chunks. These smaller, more manageable tasks could be opening a new document, saving a document, underlining text, etc. This sort of approach not only makes the content easier to organize, it makes it easier for the learner to learn.

In review, your instructional goal is the guidepost you should use as you design your instruction. With a content analysis, you take the larger goal and break it down into more digestible chunks for the learner.

What's next? In the September issue, I'll cover developing performance goals and creating learning materials.


Super Newsletters: Protecting Copyrights

This article was adapted from "Creating Super Newsletters: A Training Curriculum for Cooperative Extension Staff," Module 4, University of Maine Cooperative Extension Service, June 1997.

Copyright laws protect the creative efforts of all of us. And educational organizations, such as Extension, are not exempt from copyright law. Copyright applies to art--logos and graphics-- just as it applies to written material. This means you can't use a logo, a photograph, a cartoon, or an illustration created by someone else without getting written permission. Otherwise, you can be sued.

A work does not have to be registered with the Copyright Office to be protected under U.S. copyright law. Even if you take a piece of artwork and manipulate it greatly, you still could be liable for copyright infringement. For instance, if you took a "Peanuts" cartoon and changed it around for your purpose, but it was still recognizable by the average person as a "Peanuts" cartoon, you would be infringing on the copyright.

In general, copyright covers works after the death of the originator, plus 50 years, after which time it becomes public domain. That's why people can take the Mona Lisa and use the image without violating copyright.

If you have questions, please call me at 765-494-6946, or send email to me at the address below.


Difficult People: Know Who You're Dealing with

Whether you're trying to defuse a situation with a person you find difficult or simply want to better understand that person, it may help you to be aware of five styles of thinking: Synthesist, Idealist, Pragmatist, Analyst, and Realist.

For this article, I am borrowing heavily from "Coping With Difficult People" by Robert M. Bramson (Dell Publishing, 1981). Bramsom's categories may help you understand where people you interact with are "coming from."

Synthesists believe there is no such thing as a basic agreement among people about facts. They are by nature debaters. They argue excessively, not so much to win, but for the simple fun of arguing. They can be maddening. They tend to be negative, disruptive, and rambling, but they also tend to be challenging, curious, restless, and creative. Tip: Remember you may never get concessions. You may have to agree to disagree. What is important is that you express your confidence in them and their work.

Idealists believe people can agree about anything if their differing views can be brought together under a common goal or idea. They often talk about goals and higher values. They're open to alternatives. They strive for an agreement that will suit everyone. When they demand high standards, they can become inflexible. They can be meddlesome and tend to expect much from themselves and others. Nurses, teachers, and volunteers often fit into this category.

Tip: They want to be appreciated and found worthy of trust, so express that appreciation. This is especially important with volunteers.

* Pragmatists want to get on with the job. They can make due with what they have, not necessarily with an eye toward ideal results. They feel that all things happen incrementally, in a piecemeal fashion. They're impatient with analysis and theorizing.

Tip: Keep them busy. They're good on your team because they often pick up quickly on what works and what doesn't.

Analysts' view of the world rests on the assumption that the world is basically orderly, logical, and rational. They seem stubborn, dogmatic, narrow minded, compulsive, and detail oriented. They often have a mathematical bent. They want to find the "one" right way to solve a problem, even if there are other practical ways. Their best quality, thoroughness of thought and sticking to that process, is also their most frustrating.

Tip: Let them calculate their way through problems.

Remember, these are just categories, not permanent labels. Use them as a guide when you find yourself in a difficult situation with people.


Grammar Trap: Sight vs. Site vs. Cite

Three words (two nouns and a verb). Three quite different meanings. Identical pronunciations--there's the rub.

"Sight," to make a long story short and simple, means something that's seen or the faculty of seeing

"Site," on the other hand, means the position or location of something.

Get the picture? Because "sight" and "site" sound the same and because people use their eyes to see the latter, some assume the term is "Web sight."

"Cite," on the third hand, is a verb meaning to quote, to mention in support, or to summon officially to appear in court.

If there's a grammar or usage trap you'd like me to discuss or if you have a tip that will help the rest of us avoid one, please let me know.


We want to hear from you. Do you have a communication question? Do you have a comment on this issue of "On Target"? If so, please e-mail any of our writers or On Target's managing editor, Kevin Smith.

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