We often talk about learning objectives as the key to success for learning solutions. If you have clearly defined your goals, then training should be successful. At least, that’s how the thinking goes.
If you are a learning and development professional, or a human being, your previous experience confirms that this is not the case. Even when we establish clear goals, we often fail to reach them Why? Too much emphasis on the end result and too little emphasis on the process.
It’s true: training must have clearly defined goals and objectives to be successful. However, you must follow specific steps or processes to achieve those goals. When designing learning solutions, it can be easy to overlook or misidentify the steps involved with meeting a goal. Taking the time to carefully vet each task in a process or system before designing a learning solution is almost as important as defining the overall goal itself!
If you’re releasing a new product or implementing a new system, your learners need to know all of the steps involved in using it. If you have an existing system that learners are currently not using properly, you must observe how they are currently using the system while also identifying the desired process, step by step.
We often identify these processes with our clients by performing a task analysis, and now we are making the worksheet we use available as a free download to help you get started on a task analysis of your own.
About the Task Analysis Worksheet
Task analysis is really part of a larger training needs analysis, and should be accompanied by an audience analysis.
- A task analysis helps you identify what learners need to do or know to meet the instructional goal and the complexity and importance of each task. A simple list of tasks required to meet the instructional goal simply won’t do.
- An audience analysis helps you uncover any information about the learners that might affect the training solution you recommend, such as education level, job experience, current knowledge, language, etc.
A crucial part of the task analysis is your rating/prioritization of the tasks. You’ll notice these three columns in the worksheet:
- Importance: How important is the task?
- Frequency: How often must the task be performed?
- Difficulty: How difficult is the task to complete?
Your task analysis will only be meaningful if you truly capture the importance, frequency, and difficulty of each task. The answers to those questions will inform your decisions about the training solution. For example, if a task is simple and is performed only once a year, it may make more sense to create a job aid for it than to spend much training time on it.
On the other hand, for a difficult task that must be performed often and with 100% accuracy you may need significant learning and practice time devoted to it to ensure competency.
Using the Task Analysis Worksheet
Follow these steps when using the worksheet:
- Think about the tasks each user group will complete.
- For each task, indicate how important, frequent, and difficult that task is. Use H (high), M (medium), and L (low) in those columns.
- Highlight tasks that are of high importance, high frequency, and high level of difficulty. That will tell you to spend time demo’ing and giving practice opportunities to those learners.
- Tasks that are low in importance, hardly ever done, and really easy to do (All “L”s), require just a job aid and you can mark that in the comments or use a different highlight color.
Don’t forget to consider the following when entertaining the idea of a task analysis:
- A task analysis cannot occur in a vacuum. Consulting stakeholders, exemplar performers, SMEs or others is critical to accurately describing each task.
- This can be a time-consuming process, but necessary for recommending the appropriate training solution. If you don’t fully understand what learners need to do, you can’t recommend the right way to teach them.
Download our Task Analysis Worksheet
You can use our task analysis worksheet to identify what learners need to do or know to meet your instructional goal… and the complexity and importance of each of the tasks. Fill out the form below to instantly download the worksheet. We’ll also send a copy to your inbox.