Being able to tell clock time is different from understanding the concept of time. Many students can read the clock perfectly well, but when asked to estimate how long an assignment will take, they can seldom provide an accurate answer. While some grossly underestimate the time required and set themselves up for disappointment and frustration, others greatly overestimate and feel overwhelmed before they even begin. Developing a sense of their individual task pace is essential for students to learn time management.
To estimate time with any accuracy, students also need to know the steps required to complete a task. Task analysis is the process of identifying what needs to get done to finish a given undertaking – whether it is a homework assignment or a long-term project like a research paper. Students sometimes do not recognize that a single homework assignment might have three parts. For instance, an assignment to read a chapter and define the vocabulary for a quiz the next day requires students to (a) read, (b) look up words in the dictionary, and (c) identify and remember information likely to be on the quiz. Students unpracticed at task analysis are likely to complete the first and second steps, then assume that the third step will happen on its own. They might do poorly on the quiz even though they believe they did their homework.
For more information on helping your students with task analysis (including steps, an example sheet, and a blank Task Analysis & Time Estimation Sheet), see “Resources to Download.”
Study Skills: Research-Based Teaching Strategies
by Patricia W. Newhall © 2008
More information on task analysis, including the purpose, materials, steps, and a filled-in example sheet.
Task Analysis and Time Estimation Sheet:
A blank copy of the task analysis and time estimation sheet for use with your students.Download
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