Home > Human Factors Methodology > Overview of Task Analysis

Overview of Task Analysis

Task analysis is a set of methods. This implies a selection before start of work. Different aims can be reach dependent on the selected method: workload analysis, post accident analysis to find the starting point of the accident, analysis if there is everything provided for the task, define requirements for the task and as analysis to find different ways to reach the task. The approach reaches therewith over different phases of the design process.

There are four major classes of task analysis presented comparable below. In two previous articles I introduced some hierarchical task analysis and some cognitive task analysis methods, see in category “Human Factors Methodology” to find them. GOMS can be counted as hierarchical task analysis but not necessarily as it provides a detailed level.

Name of the method class Aims / Difficulties Short description
(Hierarchical Task Analysis)
– hierarchical and functional approach (goal oriented not action oriented)
– goals can be reached by different actions – that makes HTA flexible and neutral with respect to its solution
– can be used to compare different actions used to accomplish the goals
– sub-goals can be analysed for task frequency, task difficulty and errors
– first identify top-goal
– redescribe it into sub-goals
– specify in which sequence sub-goals are reached
– specify conditions that activate sub-goals
Cognitive task analysis – framework for addressing cognitive elements in the task – first make a task diagram
– make a knowledge audit table with cues, might difficult aspects, strategies
– simulation interview table potential errors, critical incidents
Ecological task analysis – relationship between person and environment- relationship between person and environment
– analyses structuring of the environment
– goal related as well as method related questions are addressed
– compares perceptual surface (information available in the environment) and action surface (possible actions)
– it is the description of the mismatch between perceptual and action oriented surfaces
(Goals / Operators / Methods / Selection rules)
– aims to create a complete description of experienced users procedural knowledge
– information about learning time, execution time and degree of transfer
– similar hierarchical ordering process like in the hierarchical task analysis but in a more detailed level
– description in form of goals, operators, methods and selection rules
– focus is the method how a goal is accomplished


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