Richard Catrambone, Professor of Psychology, “The Life of a Professional Novice: Task Analysis and Instructional Design”
Subject matter experts (SMEs) who teach courses, write textbooks, and contribute to computer-based learning environments, are often “disconnected” from the knowledge they use to solve problems. Much of that knowledge has become essentially automated and therefore the SME can have difficulty articulating it or even realizing that it needs to be articulated. Research on instructional design, educational technology, and problem solving tends to emphasize instructional manipulations at the expense of a careful consideration of what learners need to know. I have developed a task analysis technique called TAPS (Task Analysis by Problem Solving) to elicit the knowledge that SMEs have, and that learners need, to solve problems in a domain. I will discuss the TAPS process and several instructional design and problem solving studies that have utilized TAPS in conjunction with my subgoal-learning model to show how instructional materials can be improved so that learners can learn more effectively and transfer their knowledge to new problems. These projects have been in domains ranging from physics to ballet and have involved instructional materials presented via paper and pencil as well as in multimedia environments.