Hierarchical Task Analysis
What is a hierarchical analysis?
"A hierarchy is an organization of elements that, according to prerequisite relationships, describes the path of experiences a learner must take to achieve any single behavior that appears higher in the hierarchy" (Seels & Glasgow, 1990, p. 94). Thus, in a hierarchical analysis, the instructional designer breaks down a task from top to bottom, thereby, showing a hierarchical relationship amongst the tasks, and then instruction is sequenced bottom up. For example, in the diagram below, task 4 has been decomposed into its enabling tasks implying that the learner cannot perform the third task until he/she has performed the first and second tasks respectively.
How do I conduct a hierarchical analysis?
The starting point for constructing a hierarchy is a comprehensive list of the tasks that make up a job or function. There are three major steps to constructing a hierarchy:
(Seels & Glasgow, 1990)
What criteria should I use to evaluate my analysis?
The following is a checklist for you to evaluate your hierarchical analysis.
_______Adequate breadth (number) of tasks; (0-5)
_______ Depth of levels: does hierarchy span all levels of learning (problem-solving to verbal information) leading to the final level of the task; (0-5)
_______ Validity & accuracy: how well does analysis correspond to learning processes; (0-5)
_______ Consistency in grouping similar tasks on same level in hierarchy; (0-5)
_______ All skills/sub-skills stated in performance terms (using verbs); (0-5)
Can I see an example of a hierarchical task analysis?
By Tina Stanley
Click here for more examples of hierarchical task analyses.