Perform a Task Analysis

What’s the Purpose of Task Analysis?

"Task analysis for instructional design is a process of analyzing and articulating the kind of learning that you expect the learners to know how to perform" (Jonassen, Tessmer, & Hannum, 1999, p.3). Instructional designers perform a task analysis in order to:

  1. determine the instructional goals and objectives;
  2. define and describe in detail the tasks and sub-tasks that the student will perform;
  3. specify the knowledge type (declarative, structural, and procedural knowledge) that characterize a job or task;
  4. select learning outcomes that are appropriate for instructional development;
  5. prioritize and sequence tasks;
  6. determine instructional activities and strategies that foster learning;
  7. select appropriate media and learning environments;
  8. construct performance assessments and evaluation (Jonassen et al., 1999).

What Methodology Does a Task Analysis Support?

The process of task analysis emerged from the behaviorist era in an effort to describe the elemental behaviors involved in performing a task or job. Nevertheless, different methods of task analysis have indeed followed the paradigm shifts to cognitive psychology and onto constructivism. Ultimately, each methodology of instruction commands its own method of analysis, yet regardless of methodology, a task analysis is needed for an in-depth understanding of the learning that’s to take place (Jonassen, et al., 1999).

I Know One Method of Task Analysis. Can I Use It All the Time?

According to Jonassen, the answer is no. Too often instructional designers try to force-fit all learning situations into one or two methods with which they are most familiar. However, as different audiences require different instructional strategies, different contexts demand different task analysis methods. To determine the best method for your instruction, you must decide what kind of analysis to perform. In general, there are five kinds of task analyses:

  1. job or performance analysis
  2. learning analysis
  3. cognitive task analysis
  4. content or subject matter analysis
  5. activity analysis.

Each of the five methods involves a different procedure for conducting a task analysis and also make different assumptions about the process of learning.

How Do I Perform a Task Analysis?

According to Jonassen, the task analysis process consists of five distinct functions:

What Formats Can I Use?

There are different formats to use based on the type of learning outcome. The following are the most prevalent:

  1. Procedural Task Analysis (for procedural skills)
  2. Hierarchical or Prerequisite Analysis (for intellectual skills)
  3. Information Processing Analysis (for procedural and cognitive tasks)
  4. Cluster Analysis (for verbal information skills)
  5. Conceptual Graph analysis (for concepts)