Module 3: Analysis (P2: Task Analysis)

Introduction to Task Analysis

After an ID (or educator) has determined the problem or need for instruction via a formal or informal needs assessment and identified the goal, an ID commonly conducts a task analysis. A task analysis, also called an instructional analysis, is commonly considered the most important part of the ID process as it provides information about the content and tasks that are foundational to the instruction development. "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).

The purpose of the task analysis is to:

  1. determine the instructional 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).

It also ensures that the instructional project will:

  • Cover all information and steps that learners will need to know
  • Exclude information that learners already know
  • Exclude information that learners don't need to know

Numerous approaches exist for task analyses. We will consider two. However, before we discuss these two, let's identify our objectives for this instructional unit.


Case Example

Imagine you want to teach someone how to write and send a letter. You probably learned this skill when you were in grade school, so you don't consciously think about all of the mundane details it takes to mail a letter. You're an expert now; you're intuitively capable of those tasks. You'd actually have to stop and think about each step that you perform.

  • Write the letter, including the introduction, body, and closing
  • Address an envelope properly and legibly
  • Affix proper postage to the envelope
  • Deliver the envelope to the post office

That's a basic task analysis, but there are some assumptions here that could cause problems for someone just learning how to send a letter.

  • The list never tells the learner to put the letter in the envelope.
  • The list never tells the learner to seal the envelope.
  • How does the learner determine proper postage?
  • Where should the postage stamp be placed?

Taken from:

©2010 By Michael and Amanda Szapkiw.