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Heuristic task analysis on expertise in designing Web-based instruction (WBI)

, Indiana University, United States

Indiana University . Awarded


The purpose of this study was to develop practical WBI design guidelines to help faculty and instructional support staff more effectively and efficiently design online courses in university settings. This study utilized Heuristic Task Analysis (HTA), a method developed for eliciting, analyzing, and representing expertise in complex cognitive tasks. Eight experts, representing three post-secondary institutions offering online programs, were selected for interviews based on the following criteria: (1) WBI design knowledge and skills indicated by formal training/education and experience (i.e. years of experience and number of courses designed); (2) peer recognition; and (3) availability.

The interviews focused on three different WBI design cases (one from each institution) and the experts were asked to articulate their underlying thoughts and principles for designing online courses. On the surface, the WBI design processes that each expert used look more alike than different, entailing major steps such as meeting with faculty, developing content, monitoring courses in progress and debriefing the instructor and students. The underlying principles and knowledge that guided each expert through the processes, however, are unique in that each expert constructed her own heuristics to accommodate the myriad contextual factors that arose in her work setting (e.g. student population, program size and structure, expert backgrounds).

After discussing the implications of findings from three cases for WBI design and further improvement of HTA, this study presented a set of WBI design guidelines consisting of six phases and heuristics with which instructional designers perform each step or sub-step and address issues like relationships with faculty, balancing student and faculty workload, and designing WBI course interface and student activities/assignments. The guidelines are by no means exhaustive, and it was suggested that readers make their own judgments when applying the guidelines to best suit their contexts of WBI design.


Lee, J.Y. Heuristic task analysis on expertise in designing Web-based instruction (WBI). Ph.D. thesis, Indiana University. Retrieved January 24, 2020 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

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