Curriculum design specialists have developed various frameworks that break down the process of curriculum and course development into components and subprocesses (see, for example, Dubin and Olshtain 1986; Hutchinson and Waters 1987; Johnson 1989; Nunan 1985, 1988a, 1988b; Richards 1990; White 1988). A framework of components is useful for several reasons: It provides an organized way of conceiving of a complex process; it sets forth domains of inquiry for the teacher, in that each component puts forth ideas as well as raises issues for the teacher to pursue; it provides a set of terms currently used in talking about course development and thus a common professional vocabulary and access to the ideas of others. The framework described here, while drawing on the work of others, is cast in terms of my own work with teachers. It is not a framework of equal parts: Each individual's context determines which processes need the most time and attention. Furthermore, the processes are not necessarily sequential but may be carried on in the planning, teaching, and replanning stages of course development.
In Table 1, each component is identified and rephrased in question form to clarify its meaning.
What are my students needs? How can I assess them so that I can address them?
What is needs assessment, and why does a teacher undertake it? At its most basic, needs assessment involves finding out what the learners know and can do and what they need to learn or do so that the course can bridge the gap (or some part of it).