Task Analysis in Instructional Design

A task analysis is a systemic collection of data about a specific job or group of jobs to determine what an employee should be taught and the resources he or she needs to achieve optimal performance (DeSimone, Werner, Harris, 2002).

In the Backwards Planning model shown below, the first step in the Analysis phase, Business Outcome, identified the Business Need, the second step, Performance Analysis identified the performance that is needed to obtain that objective, and the third step, Needs Assessment, identified the various Learning and Training Needs.

Backwards Planning Model

The Task Analysis performed in this phase further defines the Training or Learning Needs by supplying the required process and/or steps to perform a task. In addition, it should focus on how important the task is to both managers and performers, who will aid in the last backwards planning step — Individual Needs. Learners are mainly motivated by both by what they see as important AND what their managers see as important.

While the previous steps in the Analysis Phase helped you determine the performance requirements and formal and informal learning needs, this step supplies the basic information for designing and building the learning platform, which are discussed in the Design and Development phases.

Information Supplied by a Task Analysis

The Task Analysis sequences and describes measurable behaviors involved in the performance of a task. It also provides a detailed analysis of each task in terms of frequency, difficulty and importance. The analysis normally begins by observing and interviewing an exemplary performer (a person who is presently an expert performer) performing the task or by discussing the problem with other experts as discussed in the Needs Assessment.

Items to Capture

task environment

The following must be captured during this step of the Analysis Phase:


Drivers of Performance

To increase the effectiveness of a task analysis, focus on the driver of performance (Rossett, Sheldon, 2001):

When selecting tasks to be trained, consider the following factors:

Listed below are some suggested questions that might need to be asked:

Next Steps

Go to the next section: Build Performance Measures

Read Cognitive Task Analysis

Read more about Tasks

Read Task Analysis Tools: Various Approaches for Analyzing Tasks

Analysis Templates (contains several analysis templates)

Return to the Table of Contents

Pages in the Analysis Phase:


Rossett, A., Sheldon, K. (2001). Beyond the Podium: Delivering Training and Performance to a Digital World. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer

U.S. Army Field Artillery School (1984). A System Approach To Training. ST- 5K061FD92

U.S. Department of Defense Training Document (1975). Pamphlet 350-30. August, 1975.

DeSimone, R.L., Werner, J.M., Harris, D.M. (2002). Human Resource Development. Orlando, FL.: Harcourt, Inc.