Not all knowledge and skills that educators want to pass to students exist yet in textbooks. Some still reside only in the experiences of practicing engineers (e.g., how engineers create new products, how designers identify errors in calculations). The critical incident technique, CIT, is an established method for cognitive task analysis. It is especially effective for accessing implicit knowledge which exists in a person’s unconscious and is therefore not readily accessible. Such knowledge is often referred to as “experience.” The five steps to the critical incident technique are 1) Identify your objectives, 2) Make plans and set specifications, 3) Collect the data, 4) Analyze the data, and 5) Interpret the data and disseminate the results.
This manuscript presents detailed recommendations on how to conduct a CIT study; therefore, it can serve as a “how to” manual for educators who want to obtain experiences from practitioners in order to provide those experiences to students as knowledge and skills useful to their professional careers. This manuscript also includes details of an example application of CIT with lessons learned.