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Working Minds: A Practitioner's Guide to Cognitive Task Analysis (Bradford Books) [Paperback]

Beth Crandall , Gary Klein , Robert R. Hoffman
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 7, 2006 0262532816 978-0262532815 1

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.

Frequently Bought Together

Working Minds: A Practitioner's Guide to Cognitive Task Analysis (Bradford Books) + Streetlights and Shadows: Searching for the Keys to Adaptive Decision Making (Bradford Books) + Sources of Power: How People Make Decisions
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Editorial Reviews


Discovering the basis for expertise is a task fraught with difficulties, but Crandall, Klein, and Hoffman provide the practical guidance of experienced CTA practitioners. They uncover their mental models, critical cues, and strategies for organizing knowledge and adapting routines. This book collects the resources one needs to become expert at using new tools to support cognitive work.

(David Woods, Institute for Ergonomics, Ohio State University)

Cognitive task analysis (CTA) is an immensely important approach to evaluating the development, implementation, and use of complex systems. Working Minds is a one-of-a-kind handbook in which highly qualified authors not only provide practical guidance for conducting CTA but also address fundamental cognitive issues that support the techniques. It will prove an extremely valuable resource for practitioners, scientists, systems engineers, and students interested in cognitive systems and workplace evaluation.

(Vimla L. Patel, Director, Laboratory of Decision Making and Cognition, Columbia University)

About the Author

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.

Product Details

  • Series: Bradford Books
  • Paperback: 332 pages
  • Publisher: A Bradford Book; 1 edition (July 7, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262532816
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262532815
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 7 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #81,112 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cognitive Task Analysis November 18, 2006
Gary Klein and his colleagues have been studying for many years what kinds of mind-sets different jobs need, and this book reports on how that field of study is shaping up. A methodology has been developed, wherein investigators study knowledgeable workers (experts) to get the skills baseline, then write up a (series of) template(s) on their findings, whereupon these templates become teaching guides for new recruits.

This book gives a number of case studies of all phases of CTA projects. Even before interviews begin, there is a Preparation phase, wherein the CTA practitioners learn enough about the job, profession, and field of work so that they can ask intelligent questions and recognize relevant answers. Then Knowledge Elicitation follows, through interviews, questionnaires, brain-storming sessions, etc., usually involving two analysts, one to lead the enquiry, the other to record the results.

In the Analysis phase the results are collated, correlated, and represented in some graphical or tabular form so that the pattern of cognitive capabilities and their inter-relations can be depicted and understood. The patterns that may emerge include Hierarchical Task Analysis (the task logic of entailment and subsumption), and Procedural Task Analysis (the linear and concurrent sequence of activities), and these may be represented with Skills Lists, Mind Maps, Dimensional Distributions, etc.

The motivation to engage in this type of analysis is often the need to train new recruits more proficiently or replace retirees more efficaciously. So Cognitive Training is a very important part of the exercise, and the findings must be interpreted in such a way as to facilitate this process.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Working Minds December 14, 2006
The authors described the What, Why, When, Where and How of Cognitive Task Analysis from multiple aspects. One aspect concerns analyzing the cognitive tasks of incumbents in a situated setting. Another aspect concerns analyzing the cognitive task content of an envisioned role in a foreseen situation. Another aspect concerns analyzing the cognitive tasks of those who research cognitive task analysis methods, aids and tools. Another is analyzing the cognitive tasks involved in reflecting on and improving oneself as a practitioner of cognitive task analysis. Yet another is the challenges that must be mastered by educators of cognitive task analysis practitioners. The versatility and value of Cognitive Task Analysis was thusly demonstrated without causing the reader undue confusion. A significant, complex task well done.

Working Minds brings the `intuitive' aspect of decision into focus with the `rational' aspect. This is one, very large contribution. A small disappointment was the absence of teleonomics and its relationship with cognitive task analysis. Also, perhaps a sequel will say more about principles and rules for selecting human vs. automatons during a system design activity.

As computers in general and process formalization in particular encroach further into our lives and as litigation looms larger over those who cannot show that they exercised due process in their work, cognitive task analysis becomes basic, foundational, in business, government and academia. Working Minds helps discover how to lay such foundation.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A terrific resource! August 8, 2007
This is an important book for the engineering of complex systems and information technology systems. Cognitive systems engineering methods described in this book can go a long way toward helping engineers overcome the pervasive problem of inadequate requirements in the development of these systems, unite human and technology concerns in system design, and produce systems that are usable and helpful.

The book makes cognitive systems engineering and its methods much more accessible and comprehensible than any resource I've previously encountered. The book makes the methods described accessible to the novice who has never used them, while also providing details of interest to people who have experience using the methods. For example, it includes a very practical, descriptive, and well-organized walk-through of the cognitive task analysis process that extends from preparation all the way through to its contributions to system design and evaluation.

The book also includes a primer on cognition geared toward the systems developer and which is arguably an important foundation for anyone involved in developing technology that interacts with people performing cognitive work (e.g., information processing, decision making, anomaly detection, troubleshooting,...). The book addresses cost factors associated with cognitive task analysis and other cognitive systems engineering methods (and describes what cognitive systems engineering is and is not - thank you!) throughout, and is full of examples used to demonstrate how cognitive systems engineering methods have been successfully used in the past.

Every systems, human factors, and software engineering student and practitioner needs to read this book!!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Summary of Cognitive Task Analysis May 14, 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a really helpful book. I've read quite a bit about Naturalistic Decision Making and CTA's so I was already familiar with most of the concepts. As with any relatively complex subject there is often a large gap between what's in the textbooks and how things actually happen in the field. This book is much more of a "how-to-do-it" guide than any others I've read. It is a very easy read and an excellent introduction to the subject.
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