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Hierarchical Task Analysis: Developments, Applications and Extensions.
Neville A. Stanton
Human Factors Integration Defence Technology Centre
School of Engineering and Design
Hierarchical Task Analysis (HTA) is a core ergonomics approach with
pedigree of over thirty years continuous use. At its heart, HTA is based
upon a theory of performance and has only three governing principles.
Originally developed as a means of determining training requirements,
there was no way the initial pioneers of HTA could have foreseen the
extent of its success. HTA has endured as a way of representing a system
sub-goal hierarchy for extended analysis. It has been used for a range of
applications, including interface design and evaluation, allocation of
function, job aid design, error prediction, and workload assessment.
Ergonomists are still developing new ways of using HTA which has
assured the continued use of the approach for the foreseeable future.
Keywords: tasks analysis, goals, hierarchy, HTA
1. Origins of Task Analysis
According to Kirwan & Ainsworth (1992), HTA is the "best known task analysis
technique" (page 396). As such, it is probably a special case in the ergonomics
repertoire of methods. Since the first paper written on the specification for the
method in 1967 by Annett and Duncan, the past 37 years have seen many
developments in ergonomics research and methods. Despite this, HTA has
remained a central approach. It is fitting to review the current state of the art to help
take stock of where HTA has come from, the contemporary issues, and the potential
for the future.