What came first? Task analysis or sequencing?

Original Drawing: M.C. Escher Digital Elements: Coles
Original Drawing: M.C. Escher
Digital Elements: Coles

Both are vital components to instructional design and project management. Let’s take a look at what each one is:

Task analysis is essential to any instructional design project because it helps the designer determine what needs to be done. While sequencing can assist the designer in determine the order in which those tasks should be accomplished. “Before populating the design document, it is important to differentiate and sequence tasks according to the job, task and/or content analysis. This ensures proper flow of the training program. The steps to follow are outlined below.

  • Differentiate between primary tasks (the overall task), main tasks (tasks that must be completed to achieve the primary task), and supporting tasks (tasks that must be completed to achieve the main tasks).
  • State whether tasks are psychomotor (physical) or intellectual and/or cognitive.
  • Write tasks statements in the same sequence in which the job is performed.
  • Edit task statements and correlate with duties on the sales officer’s duty schedule.
  • Rate task statements on time spent, difficulty, and level of significance.
  • Derive a task importance value for each task (task importance value = difficulty x importance + frequency).
  • Rank task statements according to their importance value” (Cox, pp. 53)

The steps mentioned above are directly related to sequencing. Once the task analysis has been performed, the designer can go through each of these motions to insure the the whole training program functions successfully. It can also help the project manager determine the order in which the tasks are to be completed and it can help to identify the areas of important focus. Once could argue that task analysis and sequencing are different because sequencing has to do with the order in which the tasks are completed. The task analysis helps to determine what needs to completed to develop the training program.

However, some type of sequencing needs to happen to perform a task analysis. While the task analysis helps the project manager and instructional design plan the rest of their actions, some type of events organization needs to happen for the task analysis. For example, you wouldn’t distribute a survey without discussing what needs to be on it, or actually making the survey. Ultimately, one could argue that both work symbiotically with one another. In some ways, it reminds me of M.C. Escher’s hands drawing, where one had is drawing the other, making it a cyclical process. This same type of balanced relationship was also noted in the last blog between project management and instructional design. What do you think?

If you are in the process of developing a training program, check out these websites for useful tips on how to start your task analysis:

http://www.usability.gov/how-to-and-tools/methods/task-analysis.html

http://www.behavioradvisor.com/TaskAnalysis.html (**While this website talks about task analysis of behavior, it is helpful because it discusses how to break down behaviors into smaller parts. If your program focuses on behaviors, or you need the participants to do something a certain way, you will need to break down behaviors).

References:

Cox, D. (2009). Project management skills for instructional designers: a practical guide / Dorcas M. T. Cox.. Bloomington, Ind.: iUniverse Inc

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One thought on “What came first? Task analysis or sequencing?

  1. You found a great descriptive image for task analysis and sequencing. This reminds us that these activities are iterative and reliant upon each other.

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