Designing Effective Instruction by Morrison, Ross, & Kemp - Chapter 4

Task Analysis
A task analysis is an intensive examination of how people perform work activities.
(Kemp, Morrison, & Ross, 2006). Task analysis describes user behavior at four
levels: goals, tasks, subtasks and actions. It can be considered as the collection of
procedures for defining the content of an instructional unit. It is the instructional
designer’s way to identify the performances that are to be targeted in the
instruction, and consequently, the purpose of the instruction. In order to gather all
relevant and important information during a task analysis, the instructional designer
will engage in three important activities, including topic analysis, procedural
analysis, and critical incident analysis. The task analysis is a central element in the
overall design process. The analysis can take many forms but ultimately the content
is defined and sequenced to meet instructional objectives necessary to solve the
problem (Morrison et al., 2006). Because the process forces the subject-matter
expert to work through each individual step, subtle steps are more easily identified.
Jonassen (1989) identified five functions of task analysis: 1) inventorying tasks, 2)
describing tasks, 3) selecting tasks for instruction, 5) analyzing task and content
level (for selecting instructional strategies). Techniques for carrying out task
analysis can be grouped into at least five major categories: 1) those which identify
subordinate learning skills, 2) those which identify procedural skills, 3) those which
identify causal model underlying complex cognitive tasks, 4) those which identify
content elements, 5) those which help the designer to select appropriate
instructional strategies. (Rowland and Reigeluth, 1994).

In most cases its purpose is to help determine appropriate methods for improving
performance of that task, primarily by helping an instructional designer to decide
what to teach (content) and how best to teach it (methods). In a general sense,
task analysis determines what is involved in achieving a given goal or need and
typically follows needs assessment, through which the designer determines whether
learning or some other form of performance enhancement is required (Rowland &
Reigeluth, 1994). Task analysis as a process is used to develop understanding of
what is involved in performing and/or learning to perform a task and in so doing, the
following questions and responses can be considered.
 What does the learner do? Identify the action in each step that the learner must
perform -these actions are either physical or mental.
 What does the learner need to know to do this step? What knowledge is
necessary? What does the learner need to know about the components that are
a part of this step?

J.. and finally to retention (their knowledge remains strong). 1989. To complete a task analysis (where tasks are broken up. G. through generalization (they apply knowledge to new examples). G.. E. through fluency (they do it accurately and quickly). . M. Morrison.. then we can hardly design lesson plans etc for teaching. Handbook of Task Analysis Procedures. (2006). Task analysis is also good for improving design of tools or procedures used to accomplish goal and making predictions how long a goal will take to accomplish.R. J. Kemp. N.E. S. Rowland. Wallace Hannum and Martin Tessmer. David. London: Pergamon. or analyzed. Designing Effective Instruction.. Husen & T. to develop understanding of what is involved in performing and/or learning to perform a task ) we will need to continue until you have broken the content down to a level the target audience could understand. M. Designing effective instruction (5th ed. Invited encyclopedia entry in T. You need to know HOW to do task analysis so that you can evaluate and improve curriculum materials. New York: John Wiley & Sons. We should use task analysis to determine what knowledge and skills we must teach to solve the instructional problem. You also need to complete a task analysis because tells you exactly what students must KNOW. G. Postlethwaite (Eds.M. & Kemp. & Reigeluth. NJ: Prentice-Hall. and therefore exactly what you must TEACH. References Jonassen.. (1996). 2nd Edition. If we cannot determine the knowledge and skills the learner needs.). You must how to move students from acquisition of new knowledge (they do it accurately). This step is probably the most critical one in the design process.). Ross. Upper Saddle River. R. S. (1994) Task analysis. & Ross. Morrison.As you can deduce from above task analysis tells us exactly what students must know to achieve curriculum standards. International Encyclopedia of Education. C.