Monday, December 10, 2012

My thoughts on Job/Task Analysis

I've been thinking a lot lately about Job/Task Analysis. My first encounter with the subject was in my undergrad. While studying Human Resources we learned to develop job descriptions which required a thorough Job Analysis. Pre-Graduate School I combined that knowledge with what I could gather from blogs and other resources. In Graduate School we studied Job/Task Analysis as part of the Instructional Design course. Since then I've spent quite a bit of time reading the works of Guy Wallace, Dick Clark, and David Jonassen. From reflecting on these experiences over time I have I have evolved my own understanding and use of these two Analysis types. Disclaimer: as always, there are many ways to do this.

Ideally, when collecting data for analysis you triangulate information from Extant Data, Master Performers, Accomplished Performers, and Stakeholders.

Job Analysis

Conducting a Job Analysis is the process of figuring out exactly what a person holding a specific job should be able to accomplish... or, "What are their required performance outcomes?" (Of course, outcomes are the products or results of their work, not the actual process) This analysis is used to create job descriptions and learning objectives, among other things.

Example: As an Instructional Designer, one outcome I am expected to produce is a Job Analysis.

Ideally when you are doing a Job Analysis you also collect information on Standards (how you know when you've achieved the desired outcome) for each outcome.


  • Outcome: Job Analysis
    • Standard: Analysis Team agrees the input is complete.
  • Outcome: Task Analysis
    • Standard: Analysis Team agrees the input is complete.
I usually continue collecting data until the Analysis Team agrees it is complete, or until I run out of time. Getting the Analysis Team to agree is an important part of gaining buy-in on the content (getting the team to agree could be a whole blog topic by itself).

Task Analysis

With the Job Analysis complete it's time to move on to the Task Analysis. A Task Analysis is essentially an inventory of the Tasks required to produce the Outcomes. I typically use two types of Task Analysis; Procedural, and Cognitive. A Procedural Task Analysis is done when the actions to be performed can be observed. Cognitive Task Analysis is done when the actions to be performed can not be observed (mental). Either way, it's important that you do not get pulled into the details of the tasks at this point (this is where Analysis Paralysis usually sets in).


  • Outcome: Job Analysis
    • Task: Interview Master Performers
    • Task: Interview Accomplished Performers
    • Task: Conduct Review
    • Task: Finalize Analysis

These Outcomes and Tasks are weeded down to become objectives for the course. Later, during the Development Phase, a Content Analysis will be done to categorize each task. Waiting until after the Objectives are complete allows you to skip all the "weeded out" tasks. If you have a lot of time, you can conduct the Content Analysis before developing objectives, but in my experience, time for analysis is usually limited. What's important here is that we focus on important business outcomes, and on the tasks necessary to produce those outcomes.

Favorite Job/Task Analysis Resource:

Blog: Guy Wallace

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