Using Cognitive Task Analysis (CTA) to Create a Teaching Protocol for Bovine Dystocia

Emma K Read, S Baillie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


When learning skilled techniques and procedures, students face many challenges. Learning is easier when detailed instructions are available but experts often find it difficult to articulate all of the steps involved in a task or relate to the learner as a novice. This problem is compounded further when the technique is internal and unsighted e.g. obstetrical procedures. Using a life-size model cow and calf, and expert bovine practitioners, the steps and decision making involved in performing correction of two different dystocia presentations (anterior leg back and breech) were deconstructed using cognitive task analysis (CTA). Video cameras were positioned to capture movement inside and outside the cow model while the experts were asked to first perform the technique as if for real, and then perform the procedure again as if articulating the steps to a novice learner. The audio segments were transcribed and together with the video components were analyzed to create a list of steps for each expert. Consensus was then achieved between experts during individual interviews followed by a group discussion. A “gold standard” list or teaching protocol was created for each malpresentation. CTA was useful in defining the technical and cognitive steps required to both perform and teach the tasks effectively. Differences between experts highlight the need for consensus prior to teaching the skill. Additionally, the study identified several different, yet effective, techniques and provided information that could allow experts to consider other approaches they might use when their own technique fails.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)397-401
JournalJournal of Veterinary Medical Education
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • cognitive task analysis, bovine dystocia, simulator, model, expertise

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