What is Task Analysis?

If you have been teaching in an Autism classroom you've probably heard the word Task Analysis, but what is it and how can you implement Task Analysis with your students? Check out this quick tutorial on how I plan Task Analysis lessons, implement the lessons, and take data.

If you have been teaching in an Autism classroom you've probably heard the word Task Analysis, but what is it and how can you implement Task Analysis with your students? Check out this quick tutorial on how I plan Task Analysis lessons, implement the lessons, and take data.

Task Analysis is an Evidence Based Practice for Autism that involves teaching through prompting and fading. Task Analysis is a great way to teach students routines and any lesson or skill that has steps students will need to complete.


When planning Task Analysis Lessons, I first look at the skills I want to teach my students. Am I working on an academic skill with my students or a functional routine? I love teaching academic skills like addition and subtraction through Task Analysis because I can define which steps the students will need to complete and then I am able to create a data collection sheet that will reflect each of those steps. I also find task analysis the best tool for teaching functional routines to my students.

When I prepare for a lesson that will use Task Analysis, I first complete the task myself and write down the steps needed to complete the task. For example, when I will be teaching a hand washing routine to students, I walk through my personal hand washing routine. As I do this, I have written down the steps I use. It looks something like this:

  1. Put soap on hands
  2. Rub soap on both hands
  3. Turn on water
  4. Rinse hands
  5. Turn off water
  6. Retrieve paper towel
  7. Dry hands
  8. Throw away paper towel
  9. Exit restroom

Now that I know the steps needed to complete a hand washing routine, I can create a lesson plan and data sheet for use with my students.



Another highlight of Task Analysis is that my data sheets become my lesson plans. The cue is listed on the data sheet as well as the steps to complete and the prompt level used. When the next teacher teaches hand washing to my students, they are able see the last prompt level used and start there with the student.


Task Analysis lessons are taught through prompting and fading until students can perform tasks independently. The data sheet I talked about earlier becomes our lesson plan for teaching students to wash their hands (or whatever task it is you are teaching). I always make sure to list the cue at the top of my lesson plan and the teaching steps are listed down the side of the data sheet.




I usually make a pile of data sheets and put them in the space they will be used. Academic Task Analysis data is usually placed in student’s binders while Functional Routine data is usually placed in the area where the routine will be performed. The hand washing routine data I use typically lives in the bathroom. Occasionally it is placed by our exit door since we do wash hands in a variety of restrooms across campus.

When I start a new Task Analysis lesson, I full physical prompt the entire chain for about 4-5 trials, then depending on the way I’d like to fade prompts (forwards or backwards), I fade back to a partial physical prompt for that step. I continue to fade prompts until the student is independent at the target step in the sequence. Then I begin fading the next step in the chain and so on and so forth until the student is 100% independent in the chain.




When deciding to teach a Task Analysis lesson, you will need to decide how you want to fade the prompts in order to make your students independent in the task. You can either fade prompts from the beginning of the chain or the end of the chain. This decision really is up to you as the teacher, I tend to fade backwards just because I like my students to end a task being successful.




I like to make sure my data sheets have the prompt hierarchy listed at the top so my staff is quickly able to reference it and work towards student independence. When staff members take data, they simply mark in the level of prompt needed for each step. This makes it super easy for my to glance at the data and see how close we are getting towards independence.

Have you used Task Analysis to teach in your classroom? What are some of your favorite skills to teach using this Evidence Based Practice?

2 comments

  1. I have used task analysis data with my students for using the restroom as a part of my potty training program. I have not used it in academics but I think it will probably help me because I struggle to find meaningful data that helps me to acutely measure learning.

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    Replies
    1. Roz,

      I also started using Task Analysis for Potty Training and quickly saw how I could use it in so many more settings. Stay tuned, in the next couple weeks I'll be sharing how I use Task Analysis to teach Academic content.

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