There are four techniques in ACTA, and all of them are pretty straightforward to put to practice: You start by creating a task diagram.
You do a knowledge audit. A knowledge audit is an interview that identifies all the ways in which expertise is used in a domain, and provides examples based on actual experience.
You do a simulation interview. The simulation interview allows you to better understand an expert’s cognitive processes within the context of an single incident
You create a cognitive demands table. After conducting ACTA interviews with multiple experts, you create something called a ‘cognitive demands table’ which synthesises all that you’ve uncovered in the previous three steps
The goal when creating a task diagram is to set up the knowledge audit and the simulation interview
You start out by asking the expert to decompose the task into steps or subtasks. You ask: “Think about what you do when you (task of interest). Can you break this task down into less than six, but more than three steps?”
ask: “Of the steps you have just identified, which require difficult cognitive skills? By cognitive skills I mean: judgments, assessments, and problem solving-thinking skills.”
Of the four techniques in ACTA, picking a good simulation seems like the trickiest part of the methodology
“As you experience this simulation, imagine you are the (job you are investigating) in the incident. Afterwards, I am going to ask you a series of questions about how you would think and act in this situation.” Each event in the simulation is then probed for situation assessment, actions, critical cues, and potential errors surrounding that event.
You’ll want to redo the simulation interview with multiple experts
The final technique in the ACTA arsenal is a presentation format that lets you sort through and analyse the data. This is known as a ‘cognitive demands table’, and it's the final artefact that is produced at the end of the ACTA process
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