Task analysis

Task analysis may be considered an analysis tool for system design and evaluation or task requirements and human behaviour. In this context, the description will focus on the latter.

Task refers to a unit of activity within a work environment. A task may be given or imposed upon a participant; it may also be something carried out by the participant under their own initiative. It also requires more than one simple physical or cognitive operation for its completion. It is often negatively associated with an arduous or onerous activity. It is goal driven, with a defined outcome or objective. A task may be defined as describing a single task or a combination of smaller tasks. The larger task may be divided into sub-sections of the overall task, leading to moments in time. These may be then analysed using the HOPI model.

There are three components of a task to be considered:

  • Requirement (objective or goal)
  • Environment (elements of the work environment)
  • Behaviour (observed user actions)

Recording of the task may be done using coding in conjunction with a time or duration. Forms of coding may include sketches/stick figures, mapping, symbols (Therbligs), or even short written phrases.

The recordings may of the same participant doing multiple actions or multiple participants doing the same action.

The outcomes may be processed into a chart for statistical analysis or visually shown in maps or diagrams.

Useful links

Cohen, L. Mannion, L., Morrison K. 2007. Research methods in education. 6th ed. Routledge, London,

Creswell JW., 2009. Research design. Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches. 3rd ed. Sage, London.

Stammers, R.B., Sheppard, A., 1999. Subjective assessment. In: J.R. Wilson & E.N. Corlett (eds). Evaluation of human work, a practical ergonomics methodology. 2nd ed. London: Taylor & Francis, pp144-163.

Torrens, GE (2011) Universal Design: empathy and affinity. In Karwowski, W, Soares, M, M, Stanton, A, N, Eds, (ed) Handbook of Human Factors and Ergonomics in Consumer Products, CRC Press, pp.233-248 Available at: (http://www.crcnetbase.com/doi/abs/10.1201/b10950-19), Accessed: [23/09/015]