An easier approach to job task analysis: Q&A
Posted by Julie Delazyn
Part of the assessment development process is understanding what needs to be tested. When you are testing what someone needs to know in order for them to do their job well, subject matter experts can help you harvest evidence for your test items by observing people at work. That traditionally manual process can take a lot of time and money.
Questionmark’s new job task analysis (JTA) capabilities enable SMEs to harvest information straight from the person doing the job. These tools also offer an easier way to see the frequency, importance, difficulty and applicability of a task in order to know if it’s something that needs to be included in an assessment.
Now that JTA question authoring, assessment creation and reporting are available to users of Questionmark OnDemand and Questionmark Perception 5.7, I wanted to understand what makes this special and important. Questionmark Product Manager Jim Farrell, who has been working on the JTA question since its conception, was kind enough to speak to me about its value, why it was created, and how it can now benefit our customers.
Here is a snippet of our conversation:
So … first things first … what exactly IS job task analysis and how would our customers benefit from using it?
Job task analysis, JTA, is a survey that you send out that has a list of tasks, which are broken down into dimensions. Those dimensions are typically difficulty, importance, frequency, and applicability. You want to find out things like this from someone who fills out the surveys: Do they find the job difficult? Do they deem it important? And how frequently do they do it? When you correlate all this data you’ll quickly see the items that are more important to test on and collect information on.
We have a JTA question type in Questionmark Live where you can either build your task list and your dimensions or you can import your tasks through a simple import process—so if you have a spreadsheet with all of your tasks you can easily import it. You would then add those to a survey and send them out to collect information. We also have two JTA reports that allow you to break down results by the actual dimension—just look at the difficulty for all the tasks—or you can look at a summary view of all of your tasks and all the dimensions all at
one time; have a snapshot.
That sounds very interesting and easy to use! I’m interested in how did question type actually came to be.
We initially developed the job task analysis survey for the US Navy. Prior to this, trainers would have to travel with paper and clipboards to submarines, battleships and aircraft carriers and watch sailors and others in the navy do their jobs. We developed the JTA survey to help them be more efficient to collect this data more easily and a lot more quickly than they did before.
What do you think is most valuable and exciting about JTA?
To me, the value comes in the ease of creating the questions and sending them out. And I am probably most excited for our customers. Most customers probably harvest information with paper and clipboard and walking around and watching people do their jobs. That’s a very expensive and time-consuming task, so by being able to send this survey out directly to subject matter experts you’re getting more authentic data because you are getting it right form the SMEs rather than from someone observing the behavior.
It was fascinating for me to understand how JTA was created and how it works … Do you find this kind of question type interesting? How do you see yourself using it? Please share your thoughts below!