Submissions & Registration now available for 

17th International Conference on Naturalistic Decision Making

CTA in E/Affect

Accelerating workforce training with cognitive task analysis

Made possible through the generosity of

Two Stages | One Goal

Goal of the Initiative

Sponsored by Schmidt Futures, the NDMA aims to strengthen the case for investment in Cognitive Task Analysis by: (a) documenting the return on investment (ROI) of past research in CTA; and (b) identifying high-value CTAs that could be supported by governments and/or through public-private partnerships.

The efforts will seed a collaborative network that brings seasoned CTA practitioners to sectors suffering critical skill shortages in their workforces. Doing so holds the opportunity to increase the earning potential of the lower-income workforce while filling key performance gaps, increasing productivity and reducing risks.

Stage One: In Effect

In Effect: something that is the case in practice, even if it is not formally acknowledged to be so

Stage One was executed from December 2022 through March 2023.

The NDMA sought submissions that have demonstrated significant ROI from the application of CTA by the global community of practitioners.

NDMA members voted for the most compelling success stories, and winning submitters were awarded cash prizes.

All submitted case studies are published here with the intention of establishing synergies between demands of the workforce and the suppliers of CTA. 

Stage Two: In Affect

In Affect: make a difference to

Stage Two will be executed from January 2023 through December 2023.

The NDMA will conduct research and publish analyses identifying high-value targets for CTA that could be funded by the government (e.g., U.S. Department of Labor) or through public-private partnerships — with the specific goal of significantly accelerating the achievement of proficient performance by workers in high-demand, high-consequence positions. 

Building from this stage and working with Schmidt Futures, the NDMA will encourage the Department of Labor — and other public and/or private sponsors — to launch at least one sectoral workforce development initiative that uses CTA, within one year of the completion of the project.

Expected long-term value will be realized from gains in workforce productivity, reductions in risks including safety, and increasing wages for traditionally lower paid workers.

What is CTA?

Cognitive Task Analysis is a toolkit used by NDM researchers and practitioners to understand proficient performance and how people achieve expertise.

Studies by NDMA members have found that traditional training programs often cover only a fraction of the skills that workers actually need to succeed in a given role.

CTA practitioners “get inside the heads” of performers to reveal the nature of their expertise, such as how experts:

  • Make accurate decisions
  • Make sense of data
  • Avoid or recover from mistakes
  • Create efficiencies
  • Manage risk
  • Adapt to changing conditions
  • Use trade-off resources

Such findings can be translated into learning experiences that accelerate the achievement of expertise in others – acceleration that has been demonstrated empirically.

CTA offers many use cases for improving performance through application of findings, including:

  • Knowledge management: Capturing the knowledge of workers with key knowledge and skills who are about to retire so that replacements can accelerate their own expertise;
  • Instructional system design: Ensuring that training programs are based on what workers in a given role need to know and be able to do; and
  • Cognitive systems engineering: Designing tools to support proficient performance and augment human capabilities.


With CTA, performance improvements come rapidly, reduce the gap in performance between experts and novices, and can change the trajectory of entire organizations.

CTA Institute

The CTA Institute offers training in Cognitive Task Analysis for professionals of all disciplines.

NDMA members receive a discount on enrollment.

Informational Webinar

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

Key Publications

Key publications on Cognitive Task Analysis include:

  • Crandall, B., Klein, G. A., & Hoffman, R. R. (2006). Working minds: A practitioner’s guide to cognitive task analysis. MIT Press.
  • Ericsson, K. A., Hoffman, R. R., Kozbelt, A., & Williams, A. M. (Eds.). (2018). The Cambridge handbook of expertise and expert performance. Cambridge University Press.
  • Hoffman, R. R., & Militello, L. G. (2008). Perspectives on cognitive task analysis: Historical origins and modern communities of practice. Psychology Press.
  • Hoffman, R. R., Ward, P., Feltovich, P. J., DiBello, L., Fiore, S. M., & Andrews, D. H. (2013). Accelerated expertise: Training for high proficiency in a complex world. Psychology Press.
  • Ward, Paul, Jan Maarten Schraagen, Julie Gore, and Emilie M. Roth, eds. The Oxford handbook of expertise. Oxford University Press, 2019.