The Checklist: A simple requirement for success

Before they take off, even the most seasoned pilots are required to use a pre-flight checklist. In his book Checklist Manifesto, Atul Gawande applied this process to surgery and found that 80% of the doctors found the practice beneficial and in many cases, there was a rection in error. The book’s main point is simple: no matter how expert you may be, well-designed check lists can improve outcomes. If pilots and surgeons, who perform the same routine pre-surgery and pre-flight preparations over and over, rely on checklists, it is likely that students, professors, and training professionals will benefit from them. Here are some general steps to take to develop a personalized checklist:

  1. Consider the tasks that you frequently perform. In training, these might include broad tasks like developing a new course, delivering a lesson, conducting performance assessment, or more focused tasks like writing objectives or completing an assessment.
  2. Conduct a mini “task analysis,” where you list each step involved in the process. Be sure to make the list of tasks granular—imagine you will teach someone unfamiliar with how to perform the task.
  3. Create a visually appealing document to house your checklist.
  4. Make it easy to use. Consider where and when you are most likely to use your checklist (in your office, on the road, at home, etc.) and the most appropriate format (paper, notes page on your phone, tasks in outlook, Google doc, etc.)
  5. Try it out and revise it.
  6. Now use it! If surgeons and pilots rely on checklists to make sure they don’t forget an important step, you will undoubtedly benefit from their use.

I am currently working on a pre-class checklist for new online students. Add a comment to this post to include one or more essential items that should go on a checklist for online students before taking their very first class.

14 comments

  • This process is something I wish I could of had in the years of school. Then I could remember what items were due and when they were due instead of looking constantly at the applications the instructors give us.

  • This is very interesting to apply on our everyday lives. There is always basic roots to learned from when accomplishing a task. Doing an analysis or having short or long term goals always help any situation. Revising things often always help for improvement.

  • I love this! I feel like this could be helpful for any process work or personal related. Great checklist! Thank you for posting this!

  • I totally agree ….I make a pre-check list every month. I have made an excel document for my lists, I use notes in my iPhone and I have an app on my phone for lists. I don’t think I can go about my day without the use of lists. I find it very helpful to make a pre-check list. Before this pandemic I said I would not take any online classes because I know I am not disciplined enough plus I have found learn better with in person option. To the new online learner, I would tell them to make sure you make a list of all of the classes you intend to take and document the textbooks needed, when you purchased them, how long you were told it would take and keep a track of how long it took for future reference. Also, I have noticed that when I file my taxes I am asked how much I have spent on my textbooks. Make sure to keep track of this as well for tax purposes. Of course, this suggestion is for those that are on their own and not under their parents responsibility.

  • Ginger Ulloa-Enright

    A pre-class checklist for new online students is brilliant! Online classes can be intimidating to some and a checklist would help alleviate student stress. I think one helpful entry would be to make sure the student does a technology check; computer operating efficiency and internet speed. These two components are essential to a successful online learning experience.

  • This is a very good read. Checklists are very helpful for both students and working applications. A checklist can help lay the foundation of what must be done or accomplished to ensure success with your tasks. It can also help remember tedious or easily forgotten first steps that must be completed in order to efficiently complete a task.

  • I think this is very, very helpful. This is something that I do not currently do, and have honestly never considered doing for tasks that I do routinely. However, when overwhelmed with work putting things down in a checklist help to ensure nothing gets missed because it is just as easy to miss those routine things as it is to miss new things. This is thoughtful and helpful, thank you.

  • I find checklists to be very helpful in identifying all items and not forgeting them. Having a level of importance can also help to decide when to complete the items. Though it may be easy to consider checklists as rudimentary, I agree that they can be used at any professional level.

  • Checklists are the ideal way to organize thoughts and find ways to make processes more efficient. If a new student is beginning in the MATD program, or online courses in general, I’d recommend finding your electronic note- taking preference early. Whether you prefer Google Docs, or OneNote, or anything else, explore the features and find what’s right for you.

  • I 100% agree with this checklist!!! Within my career a task checklist is something we use repeatedly on a daily basis. Our criteria in Logistics is not relatable to the posting for doctor offices but there are similarities. Mini Task Analysis for my career follows steps in order to conduct transportation needs correctly.

  • There are many important points and aspects to this blog post. As a working professional, student and mother, I often find it a struggle to find a balance between career, home and school. I have been utilizing checklists since I was younger, often first using them when I went on trips in order for me to not forget anything. Due to the fact that many classes are now online, a checklist is still an important aspect for me personally. I feel that on a pre-class checklist, it would be important to include times for professor’s office hours in order to help with time management. Also, when purchasing books, it would be important to notate how quickly one is able to receive the book and whether there may be a different option (like an e-textbook) that would aid in being prepared.

  • I agree with many of the points made in this blog post. As someone who actively uses check-marks I strongly believe that they’re effective.

  • As a student, employee, parent and spouse- checklist are essential. It may be easy to overlook items on various to do list- especially when operating via various platforms. One essential item that might be beneficial to online students before taking their very first class is to identify a time and date of important due dates for the week. Another might be to indicate if the item will be an individual task or if it will require group collaboration.

  • I agree that no matter how well-versed you are in a field, it is important to practice the basics and remind yourself. I think by getting into a routine, you can overlook small but important steps because you are confident that you will do it right. Sometimes, you want to work faster and skip over the tasks. I think conducting a mini task analysis is a quick yet effective way to ensure you are not missing anything.

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