Analyzing Student Tasks in Relation to Content Demands, Thinking Skills, and Language Use - Module Two

This module focuses on the task analysis process in relation to content demands, thinking skills, and language use.

American Institutes for Research
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation
American Institutes for Research
Publication Year
Resource Type
Informational Material

“Analyzing Student Tasks in Relation to Content Demands, Thinking Skills, and Language Use” is the second in a three-part series of professional development modules about the English Language Proficiency (ELP) Standards for Adult Education. This training is intended for instructors, instructional leaders, administrators, and professional development providers who are learning to use the new ELP standards.

Module Two introduces the first two steps in a task analysis process. The content of the training responds to the following questions:

  • What process can adult educators follow to understand the content knowledge, analytical skills, and language demands of an instructional task?
  • What does task analysis reveal about the demands of instructional tasks in relation to academic content standards and language use?
Benefits and Uses

In order to successfully complete an instructional task (or activity), our English language learners (ELLs) must demonstrate certain content knowledge, analytical skills, and language use. In analyzing an instructional task, instructors determine what students need to know and be able to do with regard to these three components (or lens). Analyzing a task through these three lenses helps us to focus on all the various cognitive demands placed on students as they tackle an instructional task or project.

Task analysis helps us think more deeply about the structure and demands of an instructional task for ELLs—especially tasks we did not create ourselves. The task analysis process allows us to:

  • Determine whether we are challenging students to produce the most rigorous, level-appropriate, standards-aligned activities;
  • Identify roadblocks to students’ understanding; and
  • Plan for scaffolding and supports to better meet our students’ needs. 

By the end of Module Two, participants should be able to:

  • Understand the value of a task analysis process that examines what adult English Language Learners (ELLs)  need to know and do around content knowledge, analytical skills, and language use to accomplish an instructional task; and.
  • Use a task analysis process to analyze and reflect on instructional tasks for various levels and content areas.

The ultimate goal of the task analysis process is to ensure that our ELLs have the necessary supports to demonstrate the knowledge and skills required to be successful in level-appropriate, standards-aligned activities.

Note: You may work through this training module on your own, of course. But, if at all possible please explore this material with colleagues as part of a professional learning community or staff meeting.

Tips for getting the most out of this module:

  • Download and print the module’s resources (which appear in the Resources tab beginning on slide 4) before you begin the training.
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    • Use the Tab key to move forward through each screen’s content. Press Shift + Tab to move backwards. A box surrounds the object that is currently selected.
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The running time of the module is approximately 3 hours. This estimate includes the time required for you to complete the Module Two activities.

Required Training

Completion of Module One: Introduction to the English Language Proficiency Standards for Adult Education; an understanding of your state-adopted academic content standards.

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