Learning Visually

Using Task Analysis for Goal Writing

Task analysis is the process of breaking a whole skill into subskills, and it is used to identify the teaching progression of an essential skill. The documentation of skills acquired becomes a record of the student performance and should guide further programming.

The number of subskills required in a task analysis is related to the individual student’s learning profile. Where a student has difficulty accomplishing a particular sub skill at an appropriate rate, then this would indicate that the essential skill that is required needs to be addressed and the subskill needs to be broken down further. For example, locating a knife as the first step of a sandwich making goal requires scanning and object identification in the skills.

The following guidelines can be used when developing a task analysis:

  • Each step should be listed in specific behavioural terms so that mastery can be determined
  • Trial the skill yourself to determine the number of steps required
  • Write each step so that it can become a prompt for the next step
  • If the step has the word “and”, determine if the student needs this step to be broken down further
  • Pilot test the task analysis

(taken from Scheuermann and Webber 2002),

The task analysis is helpful as well for writing an ILP goal. When breaking down an Annual Goal, the subskills of the Annual Goal are essentially the targets or sub-goals. The subskills will state what behaviour or skill is being performed by the student, and it will become an objective record of the student’s performance in achieving the Annual Goal. The following example is taken from my current work "Tools of the Trade: Personalised Learning Plans (Bortoli, 2016)", which is a resource of task analysed skills related to key curriculum areas. This example shows how an Annual Goal has been addressed for a student in the functional skill of preparing simple snacks.

Long-term Goal - Elleigh will prepare simple snacks.

Annual Goal - Elleigh will independently make a vegemite sandwich

Target: During mealtime preparation and when given the materials, Elleigh will make a sandwich with 100% proficiency.

Materials: Plate, knife, margarine, vegemite and packet of bread.

When presented with materials during breakfast program, Elleigh will:

1. Locate packet of bread

2. Take two slices of bread

3.  Locate plate

4.  Place bread on plate

5.  Locate margarine

6.  Take lid off margarine

7.   Locate knife

8.   Get desired amount of margarine onto knife

9.   Spread margarine onto bread

10.  Locate vegemite

11.  Take lid off vegemite

12.  Get desired amount of vegemite onto knife

13.  Spread vegemite onto bread

14.  Put two slices of bread together to make a sandwich

Levels of Prompting: Verbal adult prompt, Physical adult prompt, No adult prompt

The above information can be turned into a data sheet for a teacher to record the student's progress, and to identify the steps in the sequence that they may be having difficulty.

Is using a visual prompt a step backwards?  - NO, not at all! If a student gets "stuck" at a particular point, then this will inform you what changes are needed in how instruction is being presented and it helps identify if the student is lacking a pre-requisite skill to perform this task. It shows that the task analysis approach informs the assessment process. Introducing a visual to perform a task independently is recommended. The visual prompt provided is not a step backwards, it is a step to removing the presence of and prompting from an adult - INDEPENDENCE IS YOUR GOAL!

The image below is what a parent used with her daughter to make her own breakfast in the morning. 


Task analysis is an essential tool for teachers to use when developing a meaningful program for a visual learner. If you want to see and hear more about Task Analysis watch this Youtube. Enjoy!