Procedural Task Analysis – Don’t Just Write Down The Steps

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Darryl L. Sink and Associates, Inc. (DSA) helps organizations design and develop learning and performance solutions that get results. DSA works cooperatively with organizations to:

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Along with teaching topics and concepts, nearly all training programs teach some procedures - either covert procedures (intellectual), overt procedures (you can see it performed) or some of both.

Often, though, these procedures are not documented well enough, or at all, to be used as a basis for designing training materials and programs.
As you work with content experts and other stakeholders on your design/development teams, we highly recommend you use flowcharting techniques rather than just listing the steps for how to do something. Why?

Flowcharts identify all the decision points that will need to be made in addition to the steps that will need to be completed in the procedure.

Sounds logical I know, but we often just jump to the steps.

We have used flowcharts for conducting procedural task analyses for both very small projects as well as large projects. We have also used flowcharts to verify existing procedures with experts or to establish new procedures where none exist or they only exist in the head of an expert. BTW, flowcharting is a great way to involve content experts and other stakeholders, especially if you can create the flowcharts with more than one expert.

Most of you have used flowcharting for something, and we suggest you use them to identify all the decision points in a process or procedure for training purposes.
Later, for teaching purposes, you will most likely change your flowchart into a descriptive list of procedural steps, but you are less likely to have left necessary decision points out by starting with flowcharts for your analysis.

If it has been a while or you haven’t been accustomed to flowcharting as a technique for procedural task analysis for training purposes, click here for a basic six-step process we use in our projects and teach in our workshops.

(See also Jonassen, D.H., Tessmer, M., & Hannum, W.H. (1999). Task analysis methods for instructional design).

See you next time,