What is Task Analysis?

This is a technique of dividing huge goals into various smaller, more manageable parts, which are then organized for teaching purposes. Task analysis involves four steps, as mentioned below.

  1. Identifying the Target Skill

Teachers should identify the skill that the students need to acquire. Usually, the target skill should have a sequence of chained discrete steps. A solitary discrete skill or a complex skill involving multiple outcomes and/or variables isn’t suitable for task analysis.

For example, turning on the sink faucet, which is a single discrete skill, is too simple. Again, ‘planning, cooking, and serving dinner’ is a complex skill with multiple variables and outcomes. Thus, both aren’t fit for task analysis. However, washing dishes is just right. Another activity that can be taken up for task analysis is ‘logging onto the computer and starting a familiar program.’ But pushing on the computer’s “on” button (which is a discrete skill that’s too simple) or logging onto the computer and building a personal web page (which is a task that’s too complex and involves several variables and many outcomes) isn’t suitable for task analysis.  

  1.     Identifying the students’ prerequisite skills and the materials required for teaching the task

Identifying the students’ prerequisite skills essential to performing the target skill is crucial. The skills that the students have already mastered don’t need to be included as a component of the task analysis. After identifying the prerequisite skills, teachers can determine the details the task analysis will include. For instance, if a teacher is teaching coin counting, he’ll first assess if his students could spot coins and their values, and if they’re able to count by 1’s, 5’s, and 10’s. These skills are the prerequisites to the target skill of coin counting. If they aren’t mastered, they need to be included as a task analysis component.

The teacher’s next step is to identify the materials he will require to teach the task, which will depend on the students’ unique learning needs and the resources available to the teacher. For coin counting, the materials needed would be a group of simulated coins and worksheets.

  1.     Breaking the target skill into components

At this stage, teachers divide the target skill into more manageable components. They do this either by completing the skill themselves and recording every step, or watching another person (via video or in real-time) finish the activity.

  1.     Confirming the complete analysis of the task

Teachers confirm that the task is wholly analyzed by running a trial and having someone (a student or colleague) follow the steps verbatim to ascertain that all steps of the skill are included and that the final result is correct and complete. If required, teachers can modify the component steps based on the feedback they get through the trial.

Finally, teachers will decide how they’ll teach the steps identified in the task analysis after considering their students’ learning goals, differences, and experiences. For instance, they may use evidence-based approaches, including prompting and reinforcement, to teach specific skills.

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