LBS Practitioner Training

Professional development support for Literacy and Basic Skills educators in Ontario

4.3 Why Task-Based Programming?

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We are all well aware that LBS service delivery has shifted from a skills-based approach to a task-based approach.  Practitioners want to make sure, therefore, they have a good understanding of task-based programming in order to make the necessary adjustments. There are four OALCF foundation documents plus a practitioner guide that can help with that:

Many practitioners have asked,

"But, why are we moving to a task-based approach to literacy? "

The rationale is actually pretty strong.

1. Tasks (as opposed to skills) can be better understood in terms of real life. Tasks related to a learner’s goal help the learner see the direct connection between the learning that occurs in the LBS program and how that learning is applied in everyday activities.

2. Tasks can be leveled according to degree of complexity. Practitioners can analyze a task’s underlying complexity using the Curriculum Framework task and performance descriptors, indicators, and task examples.  Combining both the qualities of the task itself and the observable characteristics of learner performance helps you determine the level of a task. The ability to level a task provides a clear and easy way for learners as well as delivery agencies to talk about progress and achievement with other LBS providers and stakeholders.

3. Tasks can be assessed. The ability to level tasks brings greater consistency to assessment. Province-wide consistency in the assessment of learner progress has been somewhat problematic in the past and consistency is necessary for an accurate accounting of the overall success of the LBS Program, an important consideration for government and the public.

4. A program that is organized around tasks has value for learners, practitioners, partnering service providers, community stakeholders, and the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. (MTCU)

  • Learners have
    • greater awareness of actual tasks they will need to perform for their chosen goals
    • paths available to them based on what they have learned to do so they can, should they wish, more easily transition from an independence goal to an employment goal, for example
    • smoother transitions between programs anywhere in the province if they decide to relocate for employment or further training
  • LBS practitioners have stronger support and more guidance in assessment, instruction and the selection and use of resources.
  • Partnering EO service providers have a clearer understanding of LBS and the services we provide and a better idea, then, of how how LBS might fit within their clients’ service plans.
  • MTCU has a means of gathering more reliable data on learner progress based on consistent measures of performance.

5. Task-based programming is an effective methodology to help learners use their literacy abilities. Research confirms that knowledge is better retained when it is applied and integrated into daily practice.

6. Task-based programming is consistent with the principles of adult learning. Because adults live in a task-driven world and are, either by choice or of necessity, practical “doers,” a task-based approach to learning has a particular appeal. Adults are more highly motivated by program content that is immediately relevant and applicable.

7. A task-based approach builds on successful LBS practices. Most LBS delivery agencies are already implementing various aspects of task-based programming. For example, many Learner Plans organize learning by tasks, and most programs use task-based demonstrations for initial, ongoing, and exit assessments.

8. A task-based approach supports the common assessment of learner progress. Using the kind of standardized criteria found in the Curriculum Framework to create and level tasks is the only way to ensure that a task-based approach is credible in educational, training, or employment settings.

9. A task-based approach improves outcomes because learners are

  • better prepared to perform well on task-based assessment activities, such as used in on-the-job training
  • more aware of the applicability of their learning and their capacity to use literacy in authentic, everyday settings
  • better able to recognize when they have reached their goal and are ready to transition out of the LBS Program

10. A task-based approach has strong links to Essential Skills. The OALCF Levels are informed by the same factors that drive task complexity at the Essential Skills Levels 1, 2, and 3. Because the three OALCF Levels are informed by the same factors that drive task complexity in Essential Skills (ES) Levels 1, 2, and 3, LBS practitioners can draw upon the wealth of Essential Skills-related information and resources to enhance their programs.

11. A task-based approach provides familiar language to describe the performance of everyday tasks. The Curriculum Framework supports the use of a common, easily understood language that stakeholders can use when referring clients.

In this chapter, we consider the following topics and their general effect on program planning:

  • What does task-based programming look like?
  • Introducing learners to task-based programming
  • The interplay of task-based and skill-based programming
  • Selecting appropriate tasks for learners

We begin with the question, "What is task-based programming, and what does it look like?"


4.2 Goal-Directed Program Planning


4.3 What Is Task-Based Programming?



The programming approach as it is described in the OALCF provides learners with

clearer descriptions of actual tasks they will need to perform for their chosen goals

paths available to them, based on what they have learned to do, so they can more easily transition from an independence goal to an   employment goal, for example

greater mobility between LBS programs anywhere in the province, for those clients relocating for employment or further training

LBS practitioners will have stronger support and guidance in assessment, instruction, and selecting and using resources.

EO service providers will better understand LBS services and how they might fit within their clients’ service plans.

The OALC Framework will provide MTCU with learner progress measures for performance management.

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