Task Analysis Still Crucial in Distance Learning

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With the shift to distance learning amid the present pandemic, ensuring learners’ mastery of the expected competencies in the different subjects remains a daunting challenge among educators today. While the Department of Education (DepEd) streamlined the K to 12 curriculum contents this school year into what it called Most Essential Learning Competencies (MELCs),  learning delivery through distance flexible learning options  appears to be still on the experimental stage. This is understandable since this is the first time to implement distance learning on a massive scale.

If we are to improve the massive roll out of distance learning, we ought to learn from the findings of research or we might as well embark on a meaningful research on this. But the latter takes time. In the meantime, we could at least make some adjustments and interventions based on immediate observation and analysis.

For instance, a review of some initially developed self-learning modules (SLMs) in Social Studies for the first grading period reveals common findings: topic is still too broad for the learner to master within the allotted time and there are non-essential repetitive activities that could not significantly improve learner’s mastery.

The feature of some of the recently developed SLMs in Social Studies might have relationship with the limitations of teachers as revealed during the supervision and monitoring conducted in face to face classes in previous years. Based on observation reports, it was noted that majority of the observed Social Studies secondary teachers failed to finish their planned lessons on time. Evaluation portion that could be used to check if mastery of the lesson was achieved is not administered within the allotted time. This means that the competency taught by the teacher was heavy within the allotted time. Hence, instructional objectives cannot be measured, and mastery is not guaranteed.

This is not to undermine the capabilities of teachers knowing that they all have the potentials notwithstanding the commitment and sacrifices even beyond the call of duty. More so with the extra demands of distance learning today entailing so much overtime works and personal resources from the teacher.

Perhaps, making SLMs specific, measurable, attainable, realistic. and time-bounded (SMART) would lessen the burden of teachers too. We take note that a competency that is heavy for a limited time would likely result to non-mastery of the competency. Hence, a teacher needs to re-learn the skill of sub-tasking the competency. This approach in teaching a competency, which could find way in the preparation of SLMs, has its advantages in the delivery of the curriculum.

Task analysis is the process of breaking a skill into a smaller, more manageable steps in order to teach the skill. As the smaller steps are mastered, the learner becomes increasingly independent in his or her ability to perform the larger skill (Szidon & Franzone, 2010)

For high school, task analysis may be best utilized through the use of charting strategies and skills that are required to accomplish the task. In other words, the instructor needs to know if the students’s prerequisite skills are in place before designing the course of study.

Once the task analysis has been created, an instructor decides the methods he or she will use to teach the task. There are a number of evidence based practices that can be used in the instruction of a skill that has been tasked analysed including, but not limited to : visual schedules, video modelling, social narratives, discrete trial training, pivotal response training and time delay. After selecting a method, the instructor decides how he or she is going to teach the task (McCulloch, 2012).

Task analysis has its positive benefits in the teaching-learning process. According to an article on “Linking Task Analysis to Student Learning”, from the Educational Resource Information Center, there are many perspectives and approaches to task analysis. But the one point that all theorists agree on is that ‘task analysis, at a minimum, assists the instructor to understand the content to be taught. This alone is sufficient reason for recommending it.” Task analysis activities have definitely been useful in helping teachers on track throughout a specific learning process. Goals are more easily understood and accomplished if the expected outcome is presented in pieces.

Going back to the development of SLMs, task analysis is crucial. And we believe our teachers could do this. – Sasha Joseph L. Daganos