At DSA, we don’t just teach the processes of innovative instructional design,
we actually do it, day in and day out.


TIPS Newsletter

Hierarchical Task Analysis – Make A Learning Hierarchy Diagram

DSA Workshops

Let us come to you with an in-company workshop.

Today’s featured workshop: The Course Developer Workshop Online

Get one-on-one guidance and feedback as you work through your own project. In this self-paced, online workshop, you will learn a proven systematic instructional development process. You will be able to make courses that are practical, competency-based, and interesting.

Dr. Paul Swan, your facilitator for the lessons, offers detailed feedback to you personally… one-on-one, and even consulting where he shows what he would do in that situation. If you need more feedback, he will ask to schedule telephone calls to discuss the assignments to be sure that you are successful.

Cost: $799 per person.

From a recent participant:

“This program provided exact instruction to our organizational needs for developing and delivering content to our learners. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care and we learned how to care for our learners by ensuring they understand our instruction.”

See more DSA Tips at https://dsink.com/#tips

Now searchable and organized by general categories. A treasure trove of great information for instructional designers, whether you are new at this or have years of experience.


Bring our expert presenters on-site with a workshop from DSA. Click here for details. Call or E-mail Jane Sink to help you decide which workshops are right for your group.


In our last tip on Procedural Task Analysis we suggested using the technique of flowcharting the procedural tasks so as to not miss the decision points one needs to make to accomplish a goal. In this tip we will focus on prerequisite learning to accomplish a goal. The result of this type of task analysis is a learning hierarchy diagram.

The process for making one is called Hierarchical Task Analysis. For teaching topics/tasks that have dependencies involving prerequisite learning, we suggest creating a learning hierarchy diagram. Click here to see an illustration of how a learning hierarchy diagram might look for a whole course or program.

So, how to proceed?

Here are the basic steps for working with content experts (SMEs) to complete a hierarchical task analysis and create a learning hierarchy diagram:

  1. Specify the main tasks for your goal. This step requires a comprehensive statement of the task’s objective, or at least a clear goal. It should indicate the skill the learners are expected to acquire upon the completion of instruction and the conditions under which the skill is to be used.
  2. Identify subtasks at the next easier level. This step is accomplished by asking, “What skills should the learners possess in order to perform the main task?” Although hundreds of skills contribute to any performance, at this stage we are only interested in identifying those that immediately contribute to the main task.
  3. Treat each subtask as a main task and repeat the procedure. Using the same approach as in Step 2, we examine each subtask as if it were a main task by asking the question, “What skills should the learners have in order to perform this subtask?” We only list those skills that immediately contribute to the subtask.

Stop the analysis when a subtask reaches the learners’ entry level.

Whenever the analysis of a subtask reaches a skill the learners already possess, it stops. The learners’ entry level is then said to have been reached. The analysis then resumes on another subtask until once more the entry level is reached. This continues until all subtasks and sub-subtasks have been analyzed to the learners’ entry level. At this point, we can consider the entire task analysis complete.

Rule of Thumb: Do not go beyond five levels in task analysis. If you must, chances are your main task is too complex for the learners. Choose one of your subtasks as a main task.

See you next time.

Darryl

darryl@dsink.com

See also our tip Content Analysis: Better and Faster – with Post-Its

For more detail, see Jonassen, D.H., Tessmer, M., & Hannum, W.H. (1999) Task Analysis Methods For Instructional Design.


Many more ideas and resources are available at the DSA Tips Archive; now searchable, organized by subject area, and by release date.