By Dr. Joel Gendelman

High-performing performance technology organizations are focused on aligning their instructional curricula with the needs of their business. The field currently lacks a systematic methodology for performing that alignment. Such a method can provide organizations with a powerful tool to better support current business initiatives, increase organizational responsiveness, and reduce curriculum acquisition and development costs.

This process can be accomplished in five steps:

  1. Analyze your business need(s)
  2. Document your current curricula
  3. Align your business need(s) with your curriculum assets
  4. Make recommendations
  5. Implement and refine recommendations

Step 1: Analyze Your Business Need(s)

  • Define your audience
    Specify the prerequisites and motivational factors of the audiences you support. Prerequisites should include both basic educational prerequisites, as well as more specific job prerequisites.
  • Create a road map for each audience
    Include the major groups of related tasks performed by members of the audience on the job and organize them into task groups.
  • Build task lists to support the road map
    Review, enhance, and document the specific tasks included in each major task group.
  • Create performance objectives
    Identify the performance objectives that support each of these tasks. Make sure that you are working with clear performance objectives that identify desired behaviors. Include the performers, behavior, result, conditions, and standards for each.

Step 2: Document Your Current Curricula

  • Gather instructional materials and related information
    Determine your curriculum materials and any information you have that support your instructional assets (e.g., instructor guides, assessments, course descriptions).
  • Identify additional information needs
    In the best of all possible worlds, your curriculum materials will have nicely grouped instructional objectives and detailed information on the target audience. However, this is typically not the case, and you will need to gather and organize this information.
  • Document the curricula
    In this step, you go beyond the information that the instructional assets provide and determine what your courses and curricula are really made of. You will not need to perform all the activities identified below, only the ones that resulted from your analysis of the performance objectives.Generate instructional and enabling objectives. This includes performance objectives, instructional objectives, and enabling objectives.Validate and enhance objectives. Do not believe everything that you read. Simply because the authors of the internal or third-party courses that compose curricula say that the materials accomplish a performance objectives does not make it so.Convert assessment items into objectives. If your assessments are representative and valid, converting assessment items into objectives is straightforward.

    Convert course outlines and activities into objectives. This method typically requires more effort. You need to follow the same steps as converting an assessment item to an objective, but this time use the content outline and associated activities as a reference.

    Group objectives under corresponding performance objectives. You will usually group instructional objectives using the same method as grouping performance objectives. You can assemble objectives in several ways. Whatever the case, it is easiest to compare objectives if you group them the same way.

Step 3: Align your Business Need(s) with your Curriculum Assets

  • Align instructional objectives with performance objectives
  • Link both to instructional assets (courses, modules, sections)
  • Note discrepancies
  • Document the results of this stage of the process

Step 4: Make Recommendations

For the most part, your recommendations will provide you and your management with the following choices:

  • Obtain or create additional instructional materials to cover the performance objectives not covered by your current instructional assets
  • Retire instructional assets
  • Reuse instructional assets that are now identified and well documented

Step 5: Implement and Refine Recommendations

Most of your recommendations will probably surround the following choices:

  • Retire courses and materials
  • Obtain additional third-party materials
  • Develop materials:
    • Course road maps
    • Activity sheets
    • Resource maps
    • Job aids
    • Assessments

Implement your newly aligned curricula, begin reusing learning objects, continue to assess their effectiveness, and make refinements.
Learn more from Joel by attending his 90-minute session, Aligning Business Needs with Instructional Assets – A Successful Performance Improvement Effort that Works, at ISPI’s 2013 Annual Conference in Reno, Nevada.
Register today!


Dr. Joel Gendelman holds both a Masters and Doctorate in Educational Technology from the Catholic University of America. He has over 25 years of experience developing performance technology solutions for organizations that include Sandoz, Molson Coors, Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, and Nissan. He has published over 50 articles and three books.