Task Analysis

CSCI 4800/6800 Feb 27, 2003

Goals of task analysis
 Elicit

descriptions of what people do  Represent those descriptions  Predict difficulties, performance  Measure learnability, transfer of knowledge between systems  Evaluate systems against usability and/or functional requirements

Possible problem with TA
 Instantiate

current tasks in new system, rather than redesigning flow of work to achieve desired higher-level function …

Lower-level view:  Actions/operations: – – Pressing a key Moving a mouse .

Types of TA techniques:  Focus – – – on: Cognition Practice of task Logic of task .

tasks. or technique appropriate for achieving goals  Tasks = activities necessary to achive goals using a device  Subtasks = components of tasks  Actions = simple tasks w/ no control structure  Method = plan = number of tasks or actions linked into a sequence .Goals. tool. such as producing a letter  Device = method. actions : terminology  Goal = external task.

Types of Task Analysis  Hierarchical Task Analysis (HTA)  Cognitive Task Analysis  Modeling “how to” knowledge .

operations. plans  Uses structure chart notation .HTA: Hierarchical Task Analysis  Graphical representation  Decomposition of high level task into constituent subtasks.

indicates absence of an action .Structure chart notation  activities ordered left to right  * indicates iteration  ○ indicates selection  ----.

Creating an HTA diagram:  Start the analysis  Progress the analysis  Finalize the analysis .

specify subtasks in terms of objectives  Draw subtasks as layered plans .Starting the Analysis  Define the area of work / main task  Break down main task into 4-8 subtasks.

breadth-first.1..Progressing the analysis  Choose – level of detail “click mouse” v. 1. or combo  Use hierarchical numbering convention 1.3 and so on .2. .. then 1. 1. 3. 2. “delete block of text”  Choose depth-first.

Finalizing the analysis  Check for consistency in decompositions and numbering of tasks  Consult with user knowledgeable in task domain .

actions are cognitive – define these – Examples: decide which button to press  recall previously stored knowledge from memory  compare two objects   Model the internal representation and processing that occurs for the purpose of designing tasks that can be undertaken more effectively by humans .Cognitive Task Analysis   Inform the design process through application of cognitive theories Some tasks.

 GOMS – Goals. ’88)  CCT – Cognitive Complexity Theory . motor.Techniques for CTA  MHP – – Model Human Processor (Card ’83) Psychological model of humans as three interacting systems: perceptual. and Selection Rules. cognitive. and related NGOMSL(Kieras. Each system has its own memory and processor. Operators. Methods.

they develop knowledge structures  KAT – Knowledge Analysis of Tasks (Johnson ’92) – Method: identify the elements of knowledge represented in a task knowledge structure .Techniques for CTA  TKS – Task Knowledge Structures (Johnson ’92) – Theory: Assumes that as people learn and perform tasks.

Other techniques …  Focus on learnability (Task-Action Grammars)  Focus on mappings from external tasks to internal tasks (External Task Internal Task. Yoked State Spaces) .

Modeling Procedural Knowledge  “how to do it” knowledge  Focuses on task to action mapping  GOMS (Goals. Operations. Methods. Selection Rules) is most famous approach .

The GOMS approach  Three – – levels of granularity: – GOMS model (general approach fo accomplishing set of tasks) unit task level : breaks users’ tasks into unit tasks. then estimates the time it takes for user to perform these keystroke level: describes and predicts time it takes to perform a task by specifying the keystrokes needed. .

If the user wishes to select an arbitrary string of characters. the user must first highlight the text and then issue the cut command. – – – Write an NGOMSL description for the goal of ‘cut out text’. a single word can be selected by double-clicking the cursor in the middle of the word. To cut the text out of a document. Write out the selection rules for this example Write out the method for selecting a word and for selecting an arbitrary string of characters .Exercise w/ GOMS  In a word processor. the characters must be highlighted by dragging the mouse over the text with the mouse button held down.

Uses of GOMS models  to predict quality of existing system or prototype  to check of consistency of methods (similar goals are achieved by similar methods)  to check that most frequent goals are achieved by relatively quick methods  as a quantitative evaluation technique  to choose between alternative designs .

unwieldy for larger tasks  requires substantial time. skill. effort  results questioned by some .Problems with GOMS  works well for simple tasks.

looks at this .Representing task knowledge  Important to understand what people already know about the specific task and this class of tasks  Now: focus on goal-to-task mapping  “KAT” – knowledge analysis of tasks.

91...More recently.  focus – – – – – has shifted to less formal methods claims analysis[Carroll & Kellogg. Maclean 91] “cognitive dimensions” framework [Green 89] . 90] Design rationale [Carroll and Moran 91. Carey 91] Cognitive walkthroughs[Lewis. 89] Scenario analysis[Young & Barnard.

user is forced to make choices too soon information links that aren’t easily visible – – – Delayed gratification  Premature commitment  Hidden dependencies  .Cognitive Dimensions  Vocabulary for describing aspects of information structures: – Viscosity  resistance to change. How easy is it to make changes to some aspects of the artifact? effort required to meet goal.

ERMIA - Entity – – – Relationship Modeling for Information Artifacts Uses ER notation One for conceptual level One for perceptual level .

ERMIA – example: hidden dependecy Spreadsheet cell 1 uses M Related cell conceptual level 1 used by M Spreadsheet cell 1 uses M Related cell perceptual level Highlights problem w/ spreadsheets – not visible which cells use this cell. only which cells are used by this cell .

Exercise  Draw an ERMIA diagram for the case of Word ‘style sheets”. For example. A style can be based on another style. . the styles ‘List’ and ‘Quotation’ may be based on the style ‘Normal’. Changing style Normal will change all styles based upon it. The style display shows only the style that it is based upon. based on the following description: – A style is a collection of character and paragraph formats that can be applied to paragraphs or documents as required.

actions  Tasks are usually viewed in terms of a hierarchical decomposition of tasks into subtasks. .Summary  Task analysis describes behaviors at three levels: goals. tasks.  HTA and related techniques focus on what actually happens. rather than on what should happen.

 Other methods focus on task knowledge. continued  Cognitive task analysis techniques aim to describe some aspect of the cognitive characteristics of users’ tasks.  Many techniques difficult to use / don’t scale well.Summary.  Some methods (such as GOMS) concentrate on users’ procedural or “how-to-do-it” knowledge. .

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