This post has nothing to do with specific skills; it’s focus is strictly on training plan development. The information below can be applied to any course of instruction contemplated. Using the tools provided will ensure consistency of information, methodology, and evaluation of your trainees. The tools also allow you to objectively consider training and evaluation plan validity (defined as: does your course teach and evaluate what it is supposed to teach and evaluate?). What is provided is not simply theory pulled out of a manual; it’s based on my own experience as an instructor, course developer, and evaluator gained in both the military and corporate world over more than 40 years.
As you get further into your NPT planning development, chances are you’re going to find yourself in the position of being the trainer, at least at first, until someone comes along with a training background that can help or take over. To give you a leg up by boiling the subject down to its essentials, this post is about developing the actual plan for training, and not about particular skills in and of themselves. In other words, it’s about your NPT performance standards, or, the level at which your NPT must be able to demonstrate their knowledge and comprehension of the concepts, principles, and physical skill sets that you’ve determined are ‘the bar’ for inclusion in your NPT and how to write the plan to support those levels.
To be sure, this is a methodical, precise process, and is best done now, while there is “normalcy” in day to day existence: People still have jobs, kids still go to school, the stores are open, the country is not being militarily invaded, etc. Once SHTF, training will take on a much more intense and shortened time line. Much will be done ‘On the Job’, and training failure may mean getting killed. Obviously, then, it’s better to develop a plan and train now, when training failures will most likely mean the trainee must do the task again, and again, and again, if necessary, to master it, and then go home to practice what he or she has learned, and come back later to be evaluated again.
The first step is easy, but requires complete honesty on your part as the training plan developer. Assess all skills held by your new NPT without prejudice and compare/contrast them against the skills you’ve determined must be gained, held, and maintained, and to which level. Something that can help you do this is Performance Code Key. You can access our Code Key and Essential Skills I (Basic NPT Member) Plan of Instruction (POI) in our On Line Classroom. The work is already completed for you.
What the code key does for training plan development is provide a quick reference to for each level of skill mastery required in three specific areas:
- Task Performance
- Task Knowledge
- Subject Knowledge
Further, the Code Key also breaks the divisions above into easily evaluated categories:
- Tasks Performance: Not Proficient, Partially Proficient, Competent, Highly Proficient
- Task Knowledge: Nomenclature (Recall), Procedure (High Knowledge Level), Operating Principles (Comprehension), Complete Theory (Application & Extrapolation)
- Subject Knowledge: Identify Facts, Principles (relationship of facts to general principles), Analysis (draw conclusions), Evaluation
What’s not completed for you is the priority of training. That you must determine by the assessment of your group’s possessed skills. For example: If your NPT members have never fired a personal defense carbine/rifle, the priority would be to teach them basic nomenclature and marksmanship before putting them on a reactive target course of fire. Simple, right? That said, when first putting a NPT together, chances are likely that your group is going to be at the basic level, if that, and the PCK and Plan of Instruction (POI) are the tools that will help you get from zero to proficient. Acknowledging that what your NPT must learn will be in areas they’ve not been exposed to, unless you have folks who are prior service and have been exposed to basic infantry type skills. Even then, unless they were assigned to a combat arms type unit and performed the skills your folks need on a daily basis, they might be more than a couple steps (if that) ahead of your newbies.
Once you’ve got your PCK developed, you can do the following to build your POI:
- List the common tasks your team must be able to perform to perform effectively (the Essential Skills I POI can be used as a model and modified to meet your local needs). Examples might include:
- Proper wear of clothing/equipment
- Field Hygiene
- Land Navigation
- For each common task, develop a Desired Learning Outcome (DLO) that includes a specific task, conditions, and a standard of performance. An example might be: Given a pack list, a personally supplied ruck sack, and zone packing methods, each trainee will display possession of required items and pack their ruck sack in accordance with the zone method within 30 minutes with no error. Here’s how this DLO is broken down:
- Task: Pack a ruck sack using the Zone Method
- Condition: Given a pack list, ruck sack, and zone packing methods
- Standard: Complete within 30 minutes with no error.
Once you’ve completed that step, you must ensure you include the type of evaluation you will use. You have the following options depending on the subject or task involved:
- Academic – Typically used to measure retention, comprehension and ability to analyze or evaluate concepts and principles. (This is a whole ‘nother area that takes a bit of training to do effectively.)
- Performance – Used with checklists to physically check off the steps required to perform a task (depending on the detail involved in the task) and can be completed by all trainees, or, in the case of observation of the entire class performing the task reasonably the same, by ‘exception’, which is simply pulling either a random trainee or one that seems to be having trouble with the task out and going through the evaluation checklist. In the first case, your by exception evaluation will validate general mastery of the task you’ve been teaching; in the second, it allows you to find the specific area giving the trainee trouble so you can focus on the right area remedially.
Not all areas have to be evaluated in the same manner. You may have DLO’s with A, P, & E next to them for complex tasks that require detailed subject knowledge to perform effectively or you may have DLO’s with only an A, or P, or E. Evaluating by exception is almost always done for performance tasks. If it’s an academic DLO, everyone usually takes the test.
The last step is writing the lesson plans that support each DLO. You can also write or obtain lesson plans that cover a number of DLO’s, such as when teaching a subject like Land Navigation, for example. Our DLO for Land Navigation has fifteen separate tasks and several levels (standards) to which particular tasks must be performed. You can get our Land Nav Slide Presentation that’s basically a lesson plan converted to a PowerPoint presentation in the On Line Classroom. We are currently revising the LP and will add it, as well as others, in the OLC in the first quarter of 2016.
Once you’ve got all this completed, you must ‘Beta Test’ your course, and be brutally honest about what works and what doesn’t, and after each area has been completed, modify your POI, LP’s and evaluation criteria, based upon your Proficiency Code Key (the only tool you have that doesn’t have to be modified). You may increase or decrease the levels of performance taken from the PCK, depending on the task or subject balanced against the capabilities of your group, but the PCK should be pretty much your baseline from which you build.
And that’s it.
If you’d like some help in building your PCK, POI, and LP’s, you can join our On Line Classroom to get ours as a model, and then send us a note with any questions you may have.