Cognitive task analysis (CTA) helps researchers understand how cognitive skills and strategies make it possible for people to act effectively and get things done. CTA can yield information people need—employers faced with personnel issues, market researchers who want to understand the thought processes of consumers, trainers and others who design instructional systems, health care professionals who want to apply lessons learned from errors and accidents, systems analysts developing user specifications, and many other professionals. CTA can show what makes the workplace work—and what keeps it from working as well as it might.
Working Minds is a true handbook, offering a set of tools for doing CTA: methods for collecting data about cognitive processes and events, analyzing them, and communicating them effectively. It covers both the "why" and the "how" of CTA methods, providing examples, guidance, and stories from the authors' own experiences as CTA practitioners. Because effective use of CTA depends on some conceptual grounding in cognitive theory and research—on knowing what a cognitive perspective can offer—the book also offers an overview of current research on cognition.
The book provides detailed guidance for planning and carrying out CTA, with chapters on capturing knowledge and capturing the way people reason. It discusses studying cognition in real-world settings and the challenges of rapidly changing technology. And it describes key issues in applying CTA findings in a variety of fields. Working Minds makes the methodology of CTA accessible and the skills involved attainable.
About the Authors
Beth Crandall is Senior Technical Director of the Klein Associates Division, Applied Research Associates.
Gary Klein is a Senior Scientist at Applied Research Associates. He is the author of Sources of Power: How People Make Decisions (1999) and the coauthor of Working Minds: A Practitioner’s Guide to Cognitive Task Analysis (2006), both published by the MIT Press.
Robert R. Hoffman is Senior Research Scientist at the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition.
"Working Minds is a one-of-a-kind handbook which not only provides practical guidance for CTA but also addresses fundamental cognitive issues that support the techniques."
—Vimla Patel, Director, Laboratory of Decision Making and Cognition, Department of Biomedical Informatics, Columbia University
"What a gem! Finally, those who are interested in understanding how people in organizations acquire, retain, maintain, interpret, represent, and use knowledge in their jobs have a practical set of tools to follow and apply. A refreshing, welcome, and much-needed resource book. Bravo!"
—Eduardo Salas, Department of Psychology and Institute for Simulation & Training, University of Central Florida
"Discovering the basis for expertise is a task fraught with difficulties, but Crandall, Klein, and Hoffman provide the practical guidance of experienced CTA practitioners. This book collects the resources one needs to become expert at using new tools to support cognitive work."
—David Woods, Institute for Ergonomics, The Ohio State University
"This is probably the best guide I have read to capturing the essence of tacit knowledge in decision making. An excellent synthesis of the academic and the practical, and a major contribution to the field."
—Dave Snowden, Founder, Cognitive Edge