Determining Curriculum Content

Using Surveys and Analysis as a Basis for the Development of Course Outline

Definition: Occupational analysis - a process that examines and occupation and lists the performance, skills, and knowledge which the occupation requires.

The process of instructional design has a logical beginning and a logical progression that ends with evaluation which shows that the students did learn and are able to perform. The first part of this process of instructional design is the responsibility of the State Department of Education. After an occupation has been identified, information must be obtained about that occupation. Information from many sources can be utilized to develop a program that will prepare a student with satisfactory employment skills and knowledge for entry into the identified occupation. Common sources of information about an occupation are career handbooks, books, various trade publications, individuals with work experience, advisory committees, and trade associations. All of these sources can help us get a clearer picture of the occupation. But not all are designed primarily to provide information for curriculum design and development.

The occupational task survey technique produces curriculum data that are reliable, quantitative and valid. However, before an occupational task survey can be conducted one must obtain or develop a list of tasks performed in the occupation. The task list is a comprehensive list of statements which define actual units of work performed by practitioners of the occupation. These lists, which describe what people do when carrying out their job responsibilities, are compiled from a number of sources, including job descriptions, training materials, work interviews, observations, and simulations. To maintain consistency in the level of specificity and style, task statements contained in the list should be written according to a set of standards. This is most important, because:

Once the task list has been secured, a statewide survey is conducted. Information gathered by this survey at the state level includes:

Frequency of task performance and the percentage of workers performing the task.

The data gathered by this survey provides for assignment of priorities to the tasks based on how often they are performed and how many workers actually perform them. This process involves determining the percentage of workers that perform a task before it becomes a priority item to be considered for instruction. It is inefficient to instruct an entire class on how to perform a task if it is actually performed by a very small percentage of workers, if it is obsolete or very specialized. At the state survey level, limited information is gathered (frequency of performance and importance of the task). Local surveys could include more detailed and localized information (task criticality, O.J.T, or in-school training,etc.). Generally,the more data one gathers and interprets, the more reliable and valid is the prioritized tasks list. At this point one must analyze the occupation, that is, set the required job performance and its accompanying related knowledge.

Task analysis

Occupation- - - nurse assistant

Duty area- - - providing a clean, environment

Task - - - clean utility and linen rooms

Performance standard - - - all items must be cleaned (sterilized, indicated). Missing items must be replaced and items must be stored in their proper places.

Steps - - -

    1. Separate contaminated and clean items.
    2. Replace items that are out of place or missing.
    3. Clean any dirty items.
    4. Wipe services with disinfectant.
    5. Send any used items back to Central Supply for sterilization.

Knowledge - - - apply principles of asepsis.

  • Identify contaminated or clean items.
  • Apply Facility Cleaning procedures.
  • Identify items to be sterilized before reuse.
  • Identify items used in utility rooms and their placement.

Attitudes - - - take pride in work.

Safety - - - apply asepsis to prevent spread of infection.

Equipment And Materials - - - disinfectant Cleaning cloths

Source of analysis - - - team of incumbent workers.

The task list is important and basic to an occupational analysis, but a task list alone is not an occupational analysis. While the skills, knowledge, discipline, and other factors related to an occupation will differ with each, it is possible to establish a plan for an analysis of important data relating to each of the tasks in an occupation. The analysis can serve additional functions in the development of a curriculum leading to entry level skills in each occupation.

Duty blocks, groups of identifiable related tasks, make up large segments of an occupation. The occupational analysis is concerned with each task within a duty block; each occupation in tern normally will have a number of duty blocks.

Charts 1 and two illustrate a format for the occupational analysis of the task statement "refinished with acrylic enamel", which is part of a broader duty entitled "refinishing", which is one of the duty blocks in the occupation identified as auto body mechanics.

It is a rare individual who has sufficient background and knowledge to develop an analysis on an individual task statement, much less the competency to complete an occupational analysis on all tasks in an occupation. It is recommended, therefore, that a team be assembled of competent persons working in the occupation at the time of the analysis. This would include instructors in that occupation who also have occupational competency and persons with competence in the disciplines of mathematics and science or other related disciplines of importance to the occupation. Such a team can follow the formal outline in chart 1 and make an analysis of the respective occupation proceeding in the development of a course of study.

It can be noted from a review of charts 1 and 2, that the items most directly related to the performance of the tasks are blocked in bolder black outlines and identified as performance, knowledge, decisions, cues, and errors. Such data can be of significant help to the instructor as he plans the demonstrations within the laboratory as well as topics of related instruction. The content included under the headings of tools, equipment, materials and objects acted upon, and "safety/hazard", assist the instructor in preparing for the demonstration and in planning for specific points of emphasis in terms of important safety hazards. The content of the analysis listed under the headings of science, math, and communication becomes the basis for related technical instruction which reveal the "why" and the "how" in order that the student will better understand current practice and better accept and understand changes that come into the occupation with technological advances. An occupational analysis, therefor, lists related tasks under broad duty statements, with an analysis of each task which guides the instructor in both the laboratory and classroom.

It must be emphasized that an occupational analysis is not a course of study. It merely identifies the scope of the tasks and the instructional content that is related to each. The content identified with one task many times will be duplicated in a number of other tasks because the task lists are not in any sequential order. No one course of study will include all of the tasks in the analysis. As indicated at the beginning of this chapter, the development of occupational analysis should be the responsibility of a state or broader agency than an individual local program. Where no occupational analysis exist, it will be the responsibility of the leadership within local programs to develop and abbreviated occupational analysis using the procedures identified in this chapter.

It is the goal of the Division of Vocational Vducation in the state of Ohio to develop occupational analysis for all the occupational areas which have multiple program sites in the state.

Definition: Course outline - list of tasks which are selected to be taught in the local program. This list is selected by the local supervisor, instructor, and advisory committee after analyzing the occupational data.


To continue the instructional design process, responsibility must now shift to the local educational program level. The first area of local responsibility is that of developing a course outline. Course outline development is the responsibility of the local supervisor working directly with the advisory committee and the instructor. The course outline is merely a list of the tasks selected to be taught. These tasks can be organized under duties.

The first step in developing the local course outline is to acquire the relevant occupational analysis. These analysis must be examined to determine if they contain the necessary tasks. This determination should be made by the supervisor working directly with the advisory committee and the instructor. If the tasks that are included in the analysis are not complete or acceptable, consideration must be given to including additional tasks. To determine which tasks to add, one or more of the following methods may be used:

The next major step in the development of the local course outline is to determine the answers to the following questions:

The supervisor, advisory committee, and instructor must answer these questions before they select which tasks to include in the course. These questions may be answered by conducting a local survey.

The next step involves the selections of duties and tasks for which the instruction will be planned. A sample task list form for use in local surveys or with advisory councils is included in this module. The basis for selection of these duties and tasks will be the survey data and the decisions of the supervisor, advisory committee, and instructor. However, other educational considerations should be taken into account when reviewing the survey data, drawing conclusions, and making decisions about instruction. Some tasks may provide a good medium for teaching a certain skill or they may have student motivational value. Some tasks, although performed often, may be basic to learning more advanced tasks. Local consideration, such as these, can be determining factors for tasks that are not clearly discriminated by the survey data.

Once the duties and their tasks have been selected and organized, they should be sequenced into a preliminary teaching-learning order. The final sequence, however, cannotbe completed until one looks at content.

In the event that tasks are added to the list, and become part of the outline, it must be determined if there is an analysis available for them. If there is not, it will be necessary to analyze the added tasks before proceeding to the development of the course of study.

Chart 3 is an organizational chart of the ISD system, and as such shows the relationship of occupational analysis and course outline to the system. There are two important and basic steps within the total instructional system design concept. As indicated earlier, the individual instructor does not have the time to develop a total occupational analysis. While the instructor will serve as a member of the team in the development of the course outline, responsibility and authority for the final approval of the course outline rests with the school administrator and the Board of Education.

Task analysis

The task analysis is an important step in the development of a lesson segment. It serves as a logical starting point because this is a necessary skill for selecting a topic which may be easily analyzed and the acquisition of this skill depends more on common sense than on learning a specific body of knowledge or new technical terms.

Every day the average person performs many tasks without thinking about each of the individual steps necessary for their accomplishment. For example, to make a telephone call to the desired party, one must follow a set of procedures in a prescribed order.

Analyzing a task involves separating a task into its component elements as was done with the telephone call. This task analysis is accomplished by thinking through or actually performing each step necessary to complete a particular task and then recording it in the sequence in which it must be performed. It should be noted that in many tasks some of the steps may occur in any order, others are dependent on the one before it. For complex casks, it is necessary to construct a diagram to show the relationship of one step to the other.

Task analysis is based upon the use of terminal and enabling objectives. However, there are actually many different ways to do this. The task itself, stated in behavioral terms becomes the terminal objective in this system. In the analysis of the telephone call described above the terminal objective would be: The student will be able to make a telephone call to the desired party. The enabling objectives are each component part of the task. For example, the student will be able to locate the desired party's telephone number would be an enabling objective. Again note this is one way of doing this in the ISD process. You will need to determine what process your organization or institution uses.

Objectives for group activity:

At the end of this learning experience the participant will demonstrate an ability to analyze a task. He will:

Developing quality task statements

Tasks maybe defined as activities performed by an individual worker in order to accomplish some component of the occupational role. Task statements are concise descriptions of units of work as the worker functions in their occupation.

A task is a unit of work activity that constitutes a significant part of a duty. A combination of tasks usually forms logical work activities necessary to perform a duty. Tasks have a definite beginning and ending point.

The task statement must be as clear as possible so that it is easily and correctly understood by workers and teachers in the occupational area. Terminology used must be consistent with the current occupational usage, and must be unambiguous so that all workers will be able to apply the same interpretation.

It should be kept in mind that task statements are to be used for training workers, and for supervising workers as they perform on the job. Statements that are too general (e.g.,"meet the public") maybe quite useless as a guide for planning instruction or evaluating performance. Statements that are extremely specific, or even trivial (e.g., "count nuts and bolts") may require no special training procedures, or may involve very short bits of training time and therefore may not be helpful.

Task statements always describe a meaningful unit of work activity that is discreet, observable, performed within a limited period of time, and that results in a product, service, or decision. A job task is a worthwhile accomplishment that an employer or customer would be willing to pay for. A job task also represents a typical assignment that would be given to a worker in the occupation being analyzed. Tasks can always be broken down into two or more procedural steps.

The components of a task statement are: Verb
The verb must be in the first person singular, active voice.
(e.g., select, prepare, maintain, direct, organize, produce)

The "object" is the thing acted upon by the worker.(e.g., reports, equipment, records, customers)

qualifier or words or phrases used to limit or modify the task statement. (e.g., ":precision measuring" "troubleshooting")
Avoid vague qualifying phrases such as "when appropriate," "as required," or "in accordance with regular procedures."

Each task statement must be capable of standing alone. A statement such as "prepare other materials" might appear to be reasonable if it appears at the end of a sentence of related tasks, but it cannot be understood by itself, so itwhich should not be used.

Repetition is acceptable. If "adjust" is the appropriate verb form for many task statements. Do not attempt to find alternatives simply for the sake of style.

Short words should be used in preference to long words or expressions (e.g., "maintain a filing system" not "take necessary action relative to setting up a system for the storage and retrieval of records and instructional materials").

Avoid the use of "etc." if an additional thought needs to be included, express it (e.g., not "maintain a system for controlling dangerous substances, etc." but "maintain a security system for controlling the use of drugs and hazardous equipment".)

Avoid the use of tools and equipment statements that merely support task performance. The use of tools in and of themselves is not a task activity but a means to achieving the task.

Include only one task in a single statement.

Task analysis is to instruction what a recipe is to a cake. It is very difficult to bake a cake without a recipe, and it is very difficult to develop instructional materials for a task without a task analysis.

A recipe breaks the procedure for baking a cake into steps and list the ingredients in each step. Worker tasks must be broken down in the same way: steps and "ingredients" needed to perform the steps.

The purpose of a task analysis is to provide detailed information which can contribute to the design and development of instructional materials.

What is a Task

A task is a work activity with the definite beginning and ending; it is measurable and observable, it consists of two or more definite steps, and leads to a product, service or decision. Some examples of tasks are: