Location: Tobaccoville, North Carolina

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Needs vs. Task: Feb 23 Class Reflection

Well, we literally just finished our MOO discussion for Feb. 23. Based on it I think I did some of my task analysis incorrectly. One task I listed was interviewing stakeholders, specifically students and parents. I see this as a necessary task because I wanted student input regarding what information to put on the course website. The need for a website has already been established. But I want the input regarding students' ideas of what is helpful.

I'm looking for the students view on what is helpful in their math course. They are in sense the "experts" on the type of help they need. From this point of view would interviewing them fall under a needs assessment or a task analsis.

Maybe I am blurring the lines again. I understand task analysis should focus on experts where as needs assessment deals with stakeholders. But in point of view I just mentioned, my stakeholds are my experts.

Maybe the type of questions I ask will determine if interviewing students is part of needs or part of task analysis.

Am I totally out there??????????


Blogger Bob King said...


You may be able to use some of the same students to help establish the "ideal and actual state" required for needs assessment, and also establish your task analysis.

Find below a customized version of a message I've posted on several blogs re: task analysis. Hope its useful:

You've done a good task analysis on your own job (an excellent table by the way). Now your task is to do a task analysis on your students' job.

In order to do a task analysis on their job, you will need to define what their job is (in other words what will they be able to do once they have received the instruction that your proposed website will deliver?).

For example, their job may be to 'think like mathematicians'. That might constitute their job: breaking that job down into component tasks (what do people do who already know how to think like mathematicians? How do they do it? If you interviewed them, how would they break it down in terms of the pieces they needed to put together in order to think in this way, as they do? This would give you a task inventory. Again, some of your 'job incumbents' may be your students, others might be colleagues. These folks need to be already thinking like mathematicians in order to tell you how they do it; that's the main requirement.

As an aside (I also shared this with Lauren), this reminds me of what I have often said about my own math education. I learned a lot (enough anyway to get good grades) but I never learned a bit about what it is to think like a mathematician. I never got the holistic (nor was it ever presented). If I had gotten the sense of it, I think I would have been able to build a useful path into using it for a variety of purposes beyond measuring boards for carpentry projects. Not likely I would have become a mathematician but likely I would have wanted to learn to use a few more math tools than the paltry few I do know how to use.

Task analysis tries to force us to name the holistic (the job), and then break it down into its main parts (the tasks). What I describe above as the job (i.e., to think like a mathematician) is only an example of the kind of thing you may identify as your students' job.

February 25, 2005 at 11:04 AM  

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