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Task Analysis (TA)

A process in which an activity or behavior is divided into small, manageable steps in order to assess and teach the skill. Other practices, such as reinforcement, video modeling, or time delay, are often used to facilitate acquisition of the smaller steps.

Evidence Based
Ages: Skip to Evidence

Steps for Implementation

Step 1. Identifying the Target Skill

Identify the target skill that the learner with ASD should acquire.

Step 2. Identifying the Prerequisite Skills of the Learner and the Materials Needed to Teach the Task

  1. Determine whether the learner has the required prerequisite skills needed to learn the task.
  2. Define the necessary materials needed to teach the task.

Step 3. Breaking the Skill into Components

  1. Segment the target skill into more manageable components by:
    1. completing the skill personally and recording each step or
    2. observing another person (in real time or via video) complete the activity and recording the steps.
  2. Confirm that each component consists of a discrete skill.

Step 4. Confirming that the Task is Completely Analyzed

Confirm that the task is completely analyzed by having someone follow the steps verbatim.

Step 5. Determining How the Skill Will be Taught

  1. Select the appropriate teaching method by matching the method to:
    1. The learner’s temperament
    2. The learner’s learning style
    3. The history of what has and has not worked for this learner
    4. The learners Individualized Education Plan (IEP)/ Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP)
    5. The environment within with the learner functions
  2. Present the steps of the task analysis to the learner in an age- and developmentally appropriate manner.

Step 6. Implementing Intervention and Monitoring Progress

  1. Implement the evidence-based practices identified as appropriate to teach the target skills, using the steps for implementation and implementation checklist for the selected practices.
  2. Follow appropriate data collection procedures to monitor learner progress for the specific evidence-based practices chosen to teach the target skills.

Research and Outcomes

Research Summary

Age Range: 3-22

Skills: Communication, social, joint attention, play, academic/pre-academic, adaptive/self-help, vocational, motor

Settings: Home, school, clinic, community

Evidence Rating: Evidence Based

The information found in the Research Summary table is updated following a literature review of new research and these ages, skills, and settings reflects information from this review.

Outcomes Matrix

The Outcomes Matrix shows outcome areas by age for which this evidence based practice is effective
Age: 0-5 6-14 15-22
Academic/Pre-academic Yes
Challenging/Interfering Behavior
Communication Yes Yes
Joint Attention Yes Yes
Mental Health
Motor Yes
Play Yes
School Readiness
Social Yes
Vocational Yes Yes
More about Intervention Outcomes

Task analysis (TA) is the process of breaking down a complex or “chained” behavioral skill into smaller components in order to teach a skill. The learner can be taught to perform individual steps of the chain progressively until the entire skill is mastered (also called “forward chaining”), or the learner may be taught to perform individual steps beginning with the final step and progressively moving back through the chain of skills until the whole task is mastered from the beginning (backward chaining). TA may also be used to present a whole task to a learner at once with clear steps on how to achieve the skill from start to finish. Other practices, such as reinforcement, video modeling, or time delay, should be used to facilitate learning of the smaller steps. As the smaller steps are mastered, the learner becomes more independent in his/her ability to perform the larger skill (Steinbrenner, et al., 2020).