The Job Aid: A Reliable, CHEAPER Alternative
would like to thank Chris Mueller for contributing this month's tip
on Job Aids. Chris has been on staff with DSA as an Instructional Designer
for 3 years this past September.
Job aids are everywhere. We use them at our jobs and in our everyday lives.
Most of you have even created job aids to help someone complete a task
for their job, whether a hand-written post-it or a large, graphical decision
chart. While ‘quick-and-dirty’ job aids are commonplace and
helpful, formal job aids require much more analysis and follow-through.
These aids can act either as supplements to training or stand alone as
references or ‘cheat sheets’.
Why go through all that trouble? Here are two reasons that stand out most:
- Save money! In
the right situation, job aids can help avoid formal training.
A job aid will help ensure that a task is done right every time.
So, when is a formal job aid a good idea? How do we know if a job aid is
Generally, a job aid can (and probably should) be used when a task:
Isn’t performed very often
- Takes more steps than
a person can memorize to complete
- Is very critical to
- Won’t change
much in the future
- Does not have any
There are several steps
and considerations involved in developing and designing a job aid. We need
to collect the
data that will be used, choose how the
aid will be designed based on many factors, and of course develop and test
the final product. One question to ask is: What type of structure should
be used? In other words, how should the job aid be organized? For example,
should it be a checklist, series of photographs with callouts, table, flowchart…?
seen many types of job aid formats, making them seem hard to categorize.
However, while a job aid might look complicated, it will
almost always fall under one of the six categories listed below, as determined
by job aid guru J.H. Harless. Want to see an example of a structure type?
Click here to see actual samples of these structure
||Sequential job aid
that has ‘ingredients’ and procedures. It is based essentially
on stimulus and response items.
Example: An instructor checklist for preparing a training session.
While this job
aid is also sequential, it requires input from the performer. It
essentially on input & output items.
Example: Calculating a loan.
Cookbook & Worksheet
||As a combination of the two types above, this job aid will have both
procedures and input from the performer.
||This job aid is in a decision-making format, in which the user must
discriminate or decide using 1-3 categories for every action.
Example: A troubleshooting table in a computer manual.
||Like a decision table, the user must decide between categories; however,
an Algorithm job aid contains 4 or more categories.
containing many decision points.
||When appropriate, any combination of the above can be combined when
the task requires both sequential and decision-making formats.
Next time you’re planning a training project, don’t
forget to make room for job aids. It could be just the cost-saving solution
Until next time,
P.S. Would you like your own copy of a job aid that
presents several structure types? Click here to sign up for a free copy
of DSA’s Implementing Change Ideas: Quick Reference Guide.
P.P.S. Look for Chris’s presentation on
job aids in next year’s
annual ISPI conference! The conference will run from April 6-11 in Dallas,
TX. Click here for more information.
Article © 2005 Darryl
L. Sink & Associates, Inc.