The outputs of the Analysis Phase, the Performance Standard, become the inputs to the Design Phase. During the Design Phase, the curriculum developer takes the Performance Standard events designated to be taught at the formal school, and attempts to simulate, as closely as possible, the real- world job conditions within the instructional environment. The closer the instruction is to real world job requirements, the more likely it is that the participant will transfer the learning to the job.

The Design Phase consists of these three processes:

  1. Write the Target Population Description (TPD: “Who is coming for instruction and what knowledge, skills, and attitudes (KSAs) must/will they bring with them?”
  2. Conduct a Learning Analysis: “What do I have to teach with?” and “What will be taught, evaluated, and how?”
  3. Sequence TLO (Terminal Learning Objectives)s: “In what order will the instruction be taught to maximize both resources and the transfer of learning?”

Write the Target Population Description (TPD: “Who is coming for instruction and what knowledge, skills, and attitudes (KSAs) must/will they bring with them?”

Conduct a Learning Analysis: “What do I have to teach with?” and “What will be taught, evaluated, and how?”

Sequence TLO (Terminal Learning Objectives)s: “In what order will the instruction be taught to maximize both resources and the transfer of learning?”


The first process of the Design Phase is to write the Target Population Description (TPD). A TPD is a description of the knowledge, skills, and attitudes (KSAs) participants are expected to bring to a course of instruction. It provides a general description of an average student and establishes the minimum administrative, physical, and academic prerequisites they must possess prior to attending a course. During the Design Phase, the TPD will provide guidance for developing objectives and selecting instructional strategies that will meet the needs of the students.


The TPD provides the focus for designing instruction. For instruction to be effective and efficient, it must build upon what participants already know.

Considering the TPD allows the curriculum developer to focus on those specific knowledge and skills a student must develop. For example, if knowing the nomenclature of the service rifle is required for the job, and the participants entering the course already possess this knowledge, then teaching this specific information is not required. Conversely, if participants entering a course do not know the service rifle nomenclature, then they need instruction. The TPD also allows the curriculum developer to select appropriate methods of instruction, media, and evaluation methods. For example, experienced participants can often learn with group projects or case studies and self-evaluation. Entry-level participants generally need instructor- led training and formal evaluation. In summary, the TPD describes the average student in general terms, establishes prerequisites, serves as the source document for developing course description and content, and is used to design instruction.


Obtain Sources of Data:  To clearly define the target population, gather data from the appropriate sources such as the SMEs, TAMs and/or FAMs closely associated with the Functional Area Gather and Review Participant Background Information:  While considering the adult learning characteristics identified later and the resources identified above, review pertinent student background information. In order to ensure the course prerequisites are correct and that the training program is developed to meet the attributes of the Performance Standard, organize this information into the following categories:

Administrative:  Certain prerequisites may be necessary due to administrative requirements of the school or the course material. These prerequisites include the student’s rank, role, security clearance, or police record (which may mean exclusion from certain types of instruction).

Physical: Physical information includes specific skills and general fitness which may include age, height, color perception, vision acuity, physical limitations, etc.

Academic: Academic information represents an inventory of the knowledge and skills the student must or will possess prior to the start of instruction. These prerequisites may include specific basic courses already completed, reading level, test scores, training experience and university scores.

Write the TPD

Capture information that describes the general characteristics of the average participant attending the course. Summarize the data into a concise paragraph describing the target population. Organize the general information describing the average student so that it is grouped together and any prerequisites are grouped together.


The second process of the Design Phase is to conduct a Learning Analysis to define what will be taught. The purpose of the Learning Analysis is to examine the real world behavior that the participant performs in the operating environment and transform it into the instructional environment. A Learning Analysis produces three primary products essential to any Program of Instruction (POI): learning objectives, test items, and methods/media. This process allows for adjustments to be made to accommodate for resource constraints at the formal school. A Learning Analysis must be performed for every task covered in new courses.

Generate Knowledge, Skills, and Attitudes for each Performance Step

When generating knowledge, skills, and attitudes (KSA), analyze each performance step and break it down into a list of KSAs required for each participant to perform that performance step. Consideration of the level of detail needed, transfer of learning, target population, and school resources is essential. The method used to identify KSAs is commonly called “brainstorming”. Brainstorming is the process used for SMEs and curriculum developers to work together to ensure that KSAs are generated for each performance step. In order to do this, the differences between knowledge, skill, and attitude must be identified:

Knowledge is information required to effectively accomplish a step, task, or job. Knowledge involves storing and recalling information and refers to the learning of names, facts, processes, and principles. Examples include “know warehouse nomenclature”; “know the format of the operations order”; “know the components of a Statement of Work” etc.

Skill is the ability to perform an activity that contributes to the accomplishment of the step, task, event, or job. Examples include “be able to disassemble a shelf unit”; “be able to organize inventory” etc.

Attitude is the feeling or emotion in regard to a fact or state. Since the majority of these cannot be observed or measured within the confines of the instructional setting, they are generally not recorded during the Learning Analysis. The exception is when analyzing the lower levels of receiving and responding within the affective domain.

Knowledge and skills are generated from references for the subject or task, such as an operator’s manual, SOP, user’s guide, and so forth. Also, consider the knowledge and skills that the target population possesses upon entering the course. This will ensure that resources are not wasted on instruction of knowledge and skills that the target population already possesses.

KSAs are brainstormed and recorded with one object and one verb and the words “or” and “and” cannot be used as they would introduce a second object or verb.

A knowledge or skill must be recorded for each performance step to indicate that the step has been analyzed and not overlooked. If no knowledge or skill can be generated for the performance step, then record the performance step as the knowledge or skill. These KSAs are an essential part of lesson plan development, as they will become the information contained in the lesson plan.

Group KSAs

Review all the knowledge and skills generated for the entire task/event, regardless of the performance step under which they were initially brainstormed. Circle and/or color-code the ones that are duplicative, very similar, or common to one or more performance steps. For each group, answer the question: “What behavior would confirm that the participant possesses these skills and knowledge?” Complementary knowledge and skills are grouped to reduce the number of Enabling Learning Objectives (ELO).  Therefore the number of performance steps does not necessarily equate to the number of ELOs.

Record behaviors on a working copy/scratch paper and retain since these behaviors are the basis for developing the ELOs. Also, use the scratch paper for notes and other considerations or decisions that are made.

Specifically, grouped knowledge and/or skills that are beyond the scope of instruction (for more experienced personnel) or are possibly taught elsewhere (in the course or school), still need to be grouped and recorded as the Learning Analysis progresses. For example, if any grouped KSAs identified during the Learning Analysis directly relate to the TPD of the course, they would be designated as “TPD.” Additionally, if a grouped KSA were taught in an earlier portion of the course, then it would not need to be re-taught but merely recalled. These grouped KSAs will be designate as delete “del” since they will not be taught in follow-on lessons. However, since these KSAs were identified during the Learning Analysis, they must be recorded for every task. This is critical to ensure that when future modifications to the course are made, key KSA groupings are not lost or dropped from the instruction.

Sequence Groupings

Review the draft behavior for each individual task/event and all the groupings of knowledge, skills and/or attitudes. The question to be answered during this step is, “Which grouping(s) of knowledge, skills, and/or attitudes should be taught first?” There are several methods curriculum developers use to sequence and present course material. The developer will use one, or a combination of two or more, of the methods listed below to sequence the groupings

Whole to Part

Present the result or product first, and then present the process or each step.

Part to Whole

Present the process or steps first, then teach the final result or product.


Present concepts that students may be familiar with or that are less complicated, then build on these concepts by presenting newer or more difficult ones.


Actions are sequenced in terms of decreasing complexity; each associated with the larger complex structure of which it is a part.


Present concepts or ideas in the order they occur over time, such as with historical events,


Present procedures or steps in the order they are performed on the job.

Cause and Effect Order

Actions are sequenced to demonstrate cause and affect relationships. This technique is appropriate for relationships that personnel must commit to long-term memory and for which training environment performance failures can be tolerated.

Critical Order

Actions are sequenced in the order of relative importance, whether from the least important to the most or vice versa, depending on the situation. Tasks favoring this technique are those that require an important action such as “Clear the weapon before starting disassembly.”

Known-to-Unknown Order

Familiar topics are considered before unfamiliar ones. This technique is appropriate in situations where the target audience has some familiarity with the type of action, but the specific action is generally unknown to them. For example, maintenance of military commercial vehicles would precede maintenance of lesser-known military specific vehicles.


The learning objective is the first of three primary products of the Learning Analysis. A learning objective is defined as the precise behavior that the participant will accomplish under a specified condition, and to a prescribed standard. It is a “contract” between the instructor and the participant.

The purpose of a learning objective can be broken down into five areas. All areas should be considered of equal importance. The learning objective should:

  • Tells participant what he/she will be able to perform (Behavior)
  • Describes the conditions under which the performance will occur (Condition)
  • Tells how well someone will perform (Standard)
  • Establishes the basis for measurement of the performance
  • Provides a focus for the instructor and the participant


Prior to writing a learning objective, it is important to have an understanding of each component: behavior, condition, and standard.

Behavior The behavior is the action the participant is expected to perform after instruction. The behavior must:

  • Contain one action verb and one object To avoid confusion by both the participant and the instructor, the behavior needs to state a single action and a single object. For example, “type an electronic mail message.”“ In this example “type” is the action verb, and “message” is the object
  • Be free of ambiguity When a behavior is observable, measurable, and uses qualifiers when necessary, the behavior will mean the same thing to all participants. An action verb must be observable in order to be measurable. It should paint a picture in the participant’s mind of what must be accomplished. This is true whether it is knowledge or a skill. Some verbs require further explanation. For instance, the verb “describe” requires a qualifier, either “in writing” or “orally.” This will eliminate any confusion on the part of the participant as to how he will be required to demonstrate the behavior. Examples of other verbs that require qualifiers are “explain,” “select,” and “list.” By qualifying the action statement, the action or the product of that action is made observable. Some verbs are not useful even when qualified. These verbs are impossible to directly observe. For example, a person cannot see someone “know.” A person cannot see someone “understand.” These words are intangibles. Other verbs that are not useful are known as constructs. A construct is something that exists only in the mind. Love and hate are constructs. We cannot see, hear, taste, smell, or feel love and hate, at least not in the physical sense, even though we know they exist
  • Be stated in participant terms Instructors must understand that they already possess knowledge that the participant does not. Do not use acronyms or technical terms that could create confusion. Keep it simple, clear, and concise
  • Be a realistic performance of the behavior in the instructional environment The behavior must reflect what the participant will do within the confines of the instructional environment and should closely as possible replicate what the participant will do on the job.

Condition: The condition describes the situation under which the behavior will take place. Conditions specify the resources provided to the participant and the environment in which the participant must perform the behavior. The formal school/detachment must attempt to duplicate the condition identified in the learning objective. Conditions can be broken down into three areas: aiding/limiting, environmental, and implied.

Aiding/Limiting Conditions:  A description of what a participant will or will not have available to him/her when performing the task. These include references, tools, equipment, job aids, facts, formulas, specific situations, special instructions, and cues. If the task must be simulated because performance could be hazardous or impracticable to reproduce, then the conditions must reflect this simulation. For example, “in a simulated Mar’s environment.”  Maybe in the Utah desert around Moab, for example.

Limiting Conditions

Any information or resource that is not available to the participant is considered a limiting condition. Some examples are listed below.

Environmental Conditions

Environmental conditions describe the environment in which the participant will be performing the behavior. These conditions can be physical or social.

  1. Physical: Physical conditions deal with the time of day, weather, location, and facilities. A few examples are listed on the next page
  2. Social: Most learning objectives talk to the participant as an individual but they may also identify the participant as a member of a team. For example, “as a member of a machine gun team…” This is an important aspect of the social environment since the person performing the behavior could be affected by what the other team members do or fail to do.

Implied conditions

Quite often the verb or object in a learning objective will have an implied condition in it. The learning objective, “Without references, drive an LAV over rough, hilly terrain in accordance with the Rough Terrain Checklist,” has an implied condition. It implies that the driver will have an LAV, and anything else required to operate it over rough, hilly terrain. For tasks that require the Marine to be equipped with individual equipment, all efforts need to be made to simplify the condition statement with regard to these items. Instead of listing each piece of gear that the Marine would wear, a generic statement such as, “while wearing a combat load” needs to be used. Clarification of those components that make up a combat load is provided during the lesson or in a reference.


The standard describes the level of proficiency to which the behavior must be performed. Standards state the quantity and/or quality of acceptable behavior. There are four criteria for a good standard:


A standard specifies the level of task completion that indicates acceptable performance of the task behavior. For instance, a standard may specify the precise nature of the output, the number of features that the output must contain, the number of steps, points, pieces, etc., that must be covered or produced, or any quantitative statement that indicates an acceptable portion of the total.


A standard indicates what is considered an accurate performance of a task behavior. Standards specify how well the behavior must be performed and are normally contained in references such as Marine Corps Orders, Technical Manuals, and Field Manuals. Only those references that describe in detail an acceptable standard of performance may be cited. If parts of the standard are contained in more than one reference, all references must be cited.


If the task is time critical, then the minimum time requirement must be specified in terms of days, hours, minutes, or seconds


The standard must be realistic in order to expect the participant to perform the behavior based on the instruction provided. A standard is deemed realistic when the time, accuracy, and completeness criteria allow for successful completion


Before writing a learning objective, the curriculum developer must understand that the Learning Objective Worksheet (LOW) is produced as documentation for the Master Lesson File (MLF).