Skip to Main Content
Cognitive task analysis is the study of macrocognitive work and the modeling of the knowledge and reasoning of domain experts, which inform the creation of intelligent systems. Over the past quarter-century, most research on decision-making and other aspects of macrocognition has been conducted using some form of cognitive task analysis. In this essay, we focus on the cost of cognitive task analysis. Cognitive task analysis can be resource-intensive and requires skilled practitioners of the craft to make the investment of time and resources worthwhile. Providing valid, useful, actionable findings from cognitive task analysis requires thoughtful analysis and representation in ways that communicate meaning. Yet, many system development efforts have not relied enough on cognitive task analysis, and have instead fallen into the trap of designer-centered design. Not only does this preclude the development of a human-centered system, it obviously avoids the actual challenge. But does cognitive task analysis have to take as long as it seems to? We explore how we might "rapidize" cognitive task analysis, by looking in detail at factors that affect the time and effort involved.