Why Is Completing Tasks Important?

Task-based learning has several benefits, especially when it is learner-centred, contextualized and goal-directed.

Skills are better retained when they are applied rather than segregated. To complete tasks in life you combine multiple competencies.

Learning occurs most effectively when related to an individual’s real-life tasks. Learner-centred, goal-directed learning uses tasks that are personalized and relevant to the learner. Authentic context enhances the learning experience.

Learning meets the specific needs of the learner. The skills explored arise from the learner’s need to complete the tasks. This need dictates what will be covered in the lesson rather than a decision made by an instructor or coursebook. Learning materials are selected on the basis of the learner’s needs and interests.

Learning is more collaborative and there is more learner independence. Including the learner in the discussion of what tasks will be required for their goal and which tasks to work on will help the learner take control of their learning. Task-based learning offers the learner both action and reflection. The learner can become more self-directed. They can independently undertake a task and make judgments without the direction of a teacher. You can instead assume the role of facilitator.

Task completion draws on the learner’s knowledge and experience. This allows for “scaffolding”or building upon and linking new skills with what the learner already knows and can do.

Task-based activities require a variety of learning styles. There is more learner participation and less time spent just watching or listening.

As we have said in the earlier section, Where to Get Help with Goal-Directed Learning Activities, there are many goal-related resources with built-in activities to help you work with learners. However, as not all of these resources have task-based activities, you may want some help finding tasks to use or adapt to the learners’ needs.

Task-Based Activities for LBS is an excellent source of sample task-based activities compiled by the QUILL Learning Network. The activities are all aligned to the Ontario Adult Literacy Curriculum Framework (OALCF). The database is searchable by stream, goal path and level, and activities are downloadable in Word and Acrobat (pdf).

For those learners on an employment or apprenticeship goal path, both the Essential Skills Profiles and How Do Your Skills Measure Up? are good sources of task-based activities. The Essential Skills Profiles describe how workers in various occupations use each of the key Essential Skills. As well as a brief description of the occupation, the profiles have examples of how each of the skills is used to complete tasks in that job. How Do Your Skills Measure Up? has work-related, task-based activities to practise or test learners’ Essential Skills of reading text, document use and numeracy. There is also a downloadable resource with examples of how to develop work-related materials into learning activities that practice these three Essential Skills.

If you have learners on the Independence goal path, you might find that Community Literacy of Ontario’s Foundations for Independence Framework is a good resource to help you and the learner plan tasks. The Foundations for Independence Framework organizes sub-goals into four broad areas or goal sets: 1) Managing basic needs; 2) Managing health; 3) Managing personal issues and relationships; 4)Participating fully as a member of the community.

An excellent tool to help you break tasks down into their foundation skills is the Embedded Skills, Knowledge and Attitudes Reference Guide for Ontario (ESKARGO). ESKARGO is a part of the OALCF Implementation Strategy Resource (ISR). Information and resources are available on the  LBS Practitioner Training website and on the ESKARGO Resources page of the Ontario Native Literacy Coalition. Ontario Association of Adult and Continuing Education School Board Administrators.

The ESKARGO, the ISR and the LBS Practitioner Training website were developed by CESBA, the Ontario Association of Adult and Continuing Education School Board Administrators.

The Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities has developed a number of OALCF supporting documents.

More detailed descriptions of these and other resources may be found in the Resources section of this module.

In the Sample Forms section of this module, we have included three formats that are being used to help learners and practitoners deliver goal-directed, task-based training.


Task Levels

In the Ontario Adult Literacy Curriculum Framework section of this module, we discussed the OALCF Levels of Performance. Basically, the OALCF uses three performance levels, which use the same complexity factors as the first three levels of Canada’s Essential Skills (ES). Like the Essential Skills, to determine complexity, the OALCF considers how individuals will use their skills to accomplish tasks outside of a learning context.

The OALCF uses two factors in interpreting a learner’s developing proficiency – Task Descriptors and Performance Descriptors. The Curriculum Framework advises that the description of both the task and the learner’s performance need to be considered together.

Accurately levelling tasks is somewhat complex and considers a number of factors. It also takes some experience. Examining, considering and comparing both the Task and Performance Descriptors of the three levels of a task group can help you determine the level of some task activities. Also, take a look at the example tasks provided at the end of each task group of the Curriculum Framework; you may be able to select similar tasks that apply to the learners you are working with. Another resource, as mentioned earlier, is the Task-Based Activities for LBS collection of tasks.

As the development of the OALCF was informed by the same complexity factors as the Essential Skills, you may find either the Readers’ Guide to the Essential Skills Profiles or the example tasks in individual occupation’s Essential Skills Profiles useful. Both can be found through www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/programs/essential-skills.html.

Task-Based Activities and Milestones

Milestones are one assessment aspect of the Ontario Adult Literacy Curriculum Framework (OALCF). Almost all learners will complete at least one milestone during their Literacy and Basic Skills training. In fact, if a learner does not complete a milestone within a fiscal year, they do not count as a learner towards your contractual learner count objectives.

Preparing learners for milestones makes the assessment less stressful and increases the chances for success. Completing task-based activities as part of the learners’ training helps to prepare them for successful milestone completion. Here are some other hints from programs

  • explain from the beginning of programming that milestones are steps to successfully completing their goal
  • create activities that are similar in nature and skill level
  • develop tasks that are modelled on the design of the milestones to be sure learners are comfortable with the format
  • become familiar with the learner’s next planned milestone, so you will know when the learner is prepared for success
  • provide related tasks to tutors to support learner preparation
  • ensure that you don’t teach to the milestone content

Questions and Activities for Reflection

  1. Try evaluating a resource (learning material) that you use or that is available at your learning centre using the How to Use the” Checklist for Evaluating Learning Materials”
  2. One of the principles of adult learning is that it “focuses on problems and the problems must be realistic.” When developing or choosing learning activities, what can you do to ensure that they connect to problems or needs that are real to the learner?
  3. Choose a task that one or more learners might need to do in order to transition from LBS to their goal. Break this task down into mini-tasks. Include the skills the learners will need to do in each of the mini-tasks.
  4. Look at one of the task-based activity resources with which you are not already familiar. How might you use this resource as a source of learning activities for some of the learners in your agency?
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