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Brainstorming: A Method for Conducting a Needs Assessment

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Publication Number: P3976
View as PDF: P3976.pdf


Consists of gathering ideas from a collective about a specific topic where quantity is prioritized over quality to “get the ball rolling.”


  • Silence – the individual participant determines how they want to come up with the idea.
  • Lines of Evolution – participants consider the current form of an idea and how it may change over time.
  • Random Connections – participants make associations to the problem from their experiences.
  • SCAMPERR – Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Purpose, Eliminate, Reverse, Rearrange.

Example Questions

  • What is the best outcome you can think of for this project?
  • What is the worst outcome you can think of for this project?
  • How would you manage that negative outcome?

Use When

  • You want participants to freely express thoughts as they arise.
  • You want to come up with creative ideas and solutions to a problem.


  • It is easy and inexpensive.
  • Participants can see their ideas realized.
  • It can be done individually or in groups (or both!).
  • Participants have an equal chance to contribute.
  • Participants are not judged for their contributions.


  • Participants can lose interest if it takes too long.
  • It can be overwhelming for some people.
  • Participants may feel pressured or influenced by group members.


Gobble, M. M. (2014) The persistence of brainstorming. Research-technology management, 57(1), 64–67.

Hammel, J. (1995) The role of assessment and evaluation in rehabilitation robotics research and development: Moving from concept to clinic to context. IEEE Transactions on Rehabilitation Engineering, 3(1), 56–61.

Indeed Editorial Team. (2023, March 10). 77 brainstorming questions to generate team ideas. Indeed.

Ritter, S. M., & Mostert, N. M. (2018). How to facilitate a brainstorming session: The effect of idea generation techniques and of group brainstorm after individual brainstormCreative Industries Journal, 11(3), 263-277.


The information given here is for educational purposes only. References to commercial products, trade names, or suppliers are made with the understanding that no endorsement is implied and that no discrimination against other products or suppliers is intended.

Publication 3976 (POD-02-24)

By Josey Webb, Master’s Student, Agricultural and Extension Education, Patricia Marie Cordero-Irizarry, Doctoral Student, Agricultural and Extension Education, and Donna J. Peterson, PhD, Extension Professor, Human Sciences.

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