Accelerating Workforce Training: Introducing the CTA in E/Affect Initiative

PRESS RELEASE: Schmidt Futures Awards NDM Association to Accelerate Workforce Training


[Spotsylvania, Virginia]: On December 1, 2022, Schmidt Futures recommended a grant to The Naturalistic Decision Making Association (NDMA) for $100,000 to demonstrate how Cognitive Task Analysis (CTA) can accelerate workforce training.

The seed fund reflects Schmidt Futures’ mission to bring “talented people together in networks to prove out their ideas and solve hard problems in science and society.”

By supporting the NDMA’s investigation into the return on investment (ROI) of CTA, the philanthropic initiative—founded by Eric and Wendy Schmidt—aims to encourage CTA’s broader adoption by policymakers and the private sector.

What is Cognitive Task Analysis?

CTA is a toolkit used by researchers, psychologists, and instructional designers to understand how high-performing professionals make decisions in challenging situations

CTA practitioners use various methods to “get inside the heads” of experts and translate their findings into learning experiences that help workers achieve proficiency at a faster rate.

A key tool for NDM practitioners, CTA has been implemented with much benefit in scores of industries for decades. This award will help document and publicize these successes and research the potential to accelerate expertise across critical future workforce roles.

“The topline impact target of this proposal is to increase awareness and support for CTA as a powerful tool to improve workforce development by policy-makers and the private sector,” says Tom Kalil, Chief Innovation Officer at Schmidt Futures. “There is great potential in this novel, interdisciplinary research to develop talent for the benefit of all.”

Two-Stage Program

The grant will support a year-long project carried out in two stages.

  • Stage 1: CTA in Effect
    The first stage will solicit case studies of CTA’s ROI and award $10,000 in total prize money to the most compelling submissions.
  • Stage 2: CTA in Affect
    The second stage will identify high-value areas of opportunity for CTA-based training programs.

“We already know that many CTA projects have brought significant value to their sponsors,” says Brian Moon, the NDMA’s Executive Director. “Incentivizing the community to report these successes is the first step toward expanding the impact of CTA.”

Call to CTA Practitioners

Stage 1 of the project is currently underway. The NDMA will accept CTA case study submissions through February 15, 2023. NDMA members will vote for the winners, who will be announced at the end of March 2023. 

Learn more:

CTA in E/Affect: Accelerating Workforce Training with Cognitive Task Analysis

About the Naturalistic Decision Making Association:

For nearly four decades, NDM practitioners have studied how people make decisions in complex real-world settings. The NDMA was incorporated in 2022 to expand awareness of NDM and its valuable interdisciplinary applications.



Brian Moon
Naturalistic Decision Making Association

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Accelerating Workforce Training. Introducing the CTA in E/Affect Challenge