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Task Analysis Activities: Teaching Students to Complete Tasks

written by: Carol Lee McCulloch • edited by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch • updated: 8/2/2012

Task analysis is one of the most effective ways to teach elementary, secondary, and even college students to thoroughly complete an assignment and master a skill(s). This article highlights everyday activities that can be broken into component parts to reach a specific learning goal.

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    What Is Task Analysis?

    magnify Task analysis, in simple terms, is a process that breaks down an activity into smaller parts. By using task analysis in the classroom, teachers find that goals are more easily reached and that students are more likely to recall material at a later date. Sequences or steps are followed and practiced, making complex goals more attainable and hazy directions clearer!

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    Make It Simple

    Classrooms from pre-school to high school can utilize the task analysis process by using routine rules and learning skills. For example, in the kindergarten and lower elementary setting, the daily routine laid out for students to follow can provide opportunities for sub-tasking. If a teacher posts rules of conduct, or expectations in a given subject area, a checklist can be provided to monitor behavioral and academic progress. If rules or procedures are too general for young children to grasp completely, a listing of "how-to's" can be charted for clarity.

    Example: If the general rule or procedure is "Be Respectful To Your Fellow Classmates," it may be more helpful to list step by step the ways this can be accomplished; a) Ask different classmates to play with you on the playground, b) Speak kindly to each classmate, c) Do not make fun of anyone, d) Be a helper, not a troublemaker, and so on. The young student can then check off the steps he or she has accomplished, and as a result, good classroom habits will be developed and the general concept will be fully understood.

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    Strategies and Skills

    For high school and college instructors, task analysis may be best utilized through the use of charting strategies and skills that are required to accomplish the task. In other words, the instructor needs to know if the student's prerequisite skills are in place before designing the course of study.

    In English class, for example, a task analysis on how to write a simple research paper can prove very useful. The procedures and strategies approach is highly successful in teaching a how-to lesson. STRATEGIES are listed on one side of the chart with SKILLS REQUIRED directly across. Each section is sub-divided to best explain what is expected and what a student should know in order to accomplish the goal.

    Another analysis approach lists sequential (boxed) steps which must be followed to complete a specific task. Long division in upper elementary, as well as organizing thoughts and processes in science and social studies class, have proven much easier to digest using this method of task analysis.

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    Positive Benefits

    According to an article on "Linking Task Analysis to Student Learning," from the Educational Resource Information Center, there are many perspectives and approaches to task analysis. But the one point that all theorists agree on is that "task analysis, at a minimum, assists the instructor or designer to understand the content to be taught. This alone is sufficient reason for recommending it." Task analysis activities have definitely been useful in helping teachers, students, employers and employees stay on track throughout a specific learning process. Goals are more easily understood and accomplished if the expected outcome is presented in pieces.

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    Sources

    What's the Purpose of Task Analysis (http://classweb.gmu.edu/ndabbagh/Resources/Resources2/taskanalysis2.htm)

    ERIC Education Resources Information Center "Linking Task Analysis with Student Learning"

    "Classroom Uses of Task Analysis" Cini, eHow.com

    Photo Credit: Morguefile.com

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With many innovative approaches to teaching children with disabilities, educators, coaches, and volunteers alike can find exciting, rewarding ways to share expertise with the special needs population!
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