Introduction to Cognitive Task Analysis

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This introductory chapter will define cognitive task analysis and give the authors' view of the state of the art. Cognitive task analysis is defined as the extension of traditional task analysis techniques to yield information about the knowledge, thought processes and goal structures that underlie observable task performance. Cognitive task analyses are conducted for a wide variety of purposes, including the design of computer systems to support human work, the development of training, and the development of tests to certify competence. The introductory chapter will draw upon a recent review of the literature on cognitive task analysis, which was conducted by RSG.27. From that review, an image of the prototypic ideal case of a cognitive task analysis process emerges. The subsequent phases in the process are discussed. The introduction ends with a discussion of further research needed in the field of cognitive task analysis. Some important issues are the use of cognitive task analysis in the design of new systems, the development of systematic approaches that effectively integrate the many available techniques, the appropriate selection of approaches for a given problem and applied purpose, and the application of cognitive task analysis to team tasks.

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