How Can a Cognitive Task Analysis Approach Be Applied to Collaborative Information Seeking?
A CTA can be a very useful research approach for understating the cognition associated with CIS activities. The nature of CIS is inherently task specific, meaning that teams of individuals are not going to take part in CIS activities unless they are presented with a task that requires gathering information in a collaborative manner. For example, patient handoffs in the healthcare domain are a specific task that is highly dependent on the effort of nurses working together to find needed information. Similarly, in the intelligence analysis sector, individual analysts must collaborate with other analysts to find information relevant to a specific intelligence problem or task.
As previously noted, CTAs and KE methods share a close relationship. The reason for specifically outlining CTAs as opposed to simply including them within the overall family of KE is that CTAs provide specific guidance for a CIS specific task. In the previous section, we highlighted the importance of KE methods, yet, we did not provide specific guidelines on when to use each method. The benefit of a CTA is that it provides the researcher a more focused plan for understanding the cognition in a specific task. The CTA approach also explains the importance of analyzing data, and then presenting it in a meaningful way for the purposes of improving the task. In the specific context of a CIS task, it will be extremely important in gathering data at the individual and team level to fully understand the task. Using the CTA structure outlined by Crandall, Klein, and Hoffman, we believe that there will be many opportunities to develop insights into cognition during CIS. Depending on the task and the context, a variety of the previously mentioned KE methods can also be employed.