Task analysis is a step-by-step instructional guide to accomplishing a goal, and it is most commonly used in math. When used appropriately, it can be a wonderful learning tool for both special education and general education students. Great task analysis guides have certain characteristics that enable the students who use them to find much success in math.
Steps In Chronological Order
The task analysis guide provides specific steps that are numbered and in chronological order. For example, if the task is dividing fractions, the first step must be to find the inverse of the second fraction, and the second step should be to multiply the numerators. If the steps are not listed in the correct order, the student will not be able to successfully solve the problem. The task analysis may have very few steps or a very large number of steps, depending on the complexity of the task.
Designed for Individual Student Needs
A task analysis for solving the same math problem may differ from student to student depending on specific needs. If a student lacks proficiency in a necessary sub-skill to solve the problem, then that sub-skill needs to become a step within the task analysis. For example, if a student does not understand specific vocabulary such as the word "inverse," the first step in dividing fractions should be altered. Instead of saying "write the inverse of the second fraction," it should say "write the inverse of the second fraction by flipping it so that the bottom number is on the top and the top number is on the bottom."
Allows Students to Find and Correct their Own Errors
The most effective math task analysis guides not only provide step-by-step instructions, but also allow the students to find and correct errors that may have occurred. Some include an additional final step that tells the students to check their work and make sure that it makes sense. Others have designated steps throughout the guide that tell the students to check their work in specific ways. Adding these steps allows students to analyze their work, rather than simply following directions.
Math task analysis guides need to be accessible to students for as long as they need them. Depending on the student, that may be for an extended period of time. Many students may need to transport the guides from class to class and from school to home. Laminating the task analysis guides will make them durable and ensure that they last for a long time. It may also be necessary to hole-punch the guides and place them in binders so that students can begin keeping collections that are easily accessible.
- "Strategies for Teaching Students with Learning and Behavior Problems"; Sharon Vaughn; 2009
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