Aviation Instructors Handbook | Chapter 5
The information presented in previous chapters has been largely theoretical, emphasizing concepts and principles pertinent to the learning process, human behavior, and effective communication in education and training programs. This knowledge, if properly used, will enable instructors to be more confident, efficient, and successful. The discussion which follows departs from the theoretical with some specific recommendations for the actual conduct of the teaching process. Included are methods and procedures which have been tested and found to be effective.
Teaching methods in common use, such as the lecture method, the guided discussion method, and the demonstration-performance method are covered in this chapter. A discussion on cooperative or group learning also is included since this type of learning may be useful in conjunction with either the lecture or guided discussion methods. A teaching method is seldom used by itself. In a typical lesson, an effective instructor normally uses more than one method. For example, a demonstration is usually accompanied by a thorough explanation, which is essentially a lecture.
Personal computers are a part of every segment of our society today. Since a number of computer-based programs are currently available from publishers of aviation training materials, a brief description of new technologies and how to use them effectively is provided near the end of the chapter.
Regardless of the teaching method used, an instructor must properly organize the material. The lessons do not stand alone within a course of training. There must be a plan of action to lead instructors and their students through the course in a logical manner toward the desired goal. Usually the goal for students is a certificate or rating. It could be a private pilot certificate, an instrument rating, or an aviation maintenance technician certificate or rating. In all cases, a systematic plan of action requires the use of an appropriate training syllabus. Generally, the syllabus must contain a description of each lesson, including objectives and completion standards. Refer to Chapter 10, Planning Instructional Activity, for detailed information on requirements for an aviation training syllabus, and the building-block concept for curriculum development.
Although some schools and independent instructors may develop their own syllabus, in practice, many instructors use a commercially developed syllabus that already has been selected by a school for use in their aviation training program. Thus, the main concern of the instructor usually is the more manageable task of organizing a block of training with integrated lesson plans. The traditional way of organizing a lesson plan is—introduction, development, and conclusion.
The introduction sets the stage for everything to come. Efforts in this area pay great dividends in terms of quality of instruction. In brief, the introduction is made up of three elements—attention, motivation, and an overview of what is to be covered. [Figure 5-1]
The purpose of the attention element is to focus each student’s attention on the lesson. The instructor may begin by telling a story, making an unexpected or surprising statement, asking a question, or telling a joke. Any of these may be appropriate at one time or another. Regardless of which is used, it should relate to the subject and establish a background for developing the learning outcomes. Telling a story or a joke that is not related in some way to the subject can only distract from the lesson. The main concern is to gain the attention of everyone and concentrate on the subject. [Figure 5-2]
The purpose of the motivation element is to offer the students specific reasons why the lesson content is important to know, understand, apply, or perform. For example, the instructor may talk about an occurrence where the knowledge in the lesson was applied. Or the instructor may remind the students of an upcoming test on the material. This motivation should appeal to each student personally and engender a desire to learn the material.
Every lesson introduction should contain an overview that tells the group what is to be covered during the period. A clear, concise presentation of the objective and the key ideas gives the students a road map of the route to be followed. A good visual aid can help the instructor show the students the path that they are to travel. The introduction should be free of stories, jokes, or incidents that do not help the students focus their attention on the lesson objective. Also, the instructor should avoid a long apologetic introduction, because it only serves to dampen the students’ interest in the lesson.
Development is the main part of the lesson. Here, the instructor develops the subject matter in a manner that helps the students achieve the desired learning outcomes. The instructor must logically organize the material to show the relationships of the main points. The instructor usually shows these primary relationships by developing the main points in one of the following ways: from past to present, simple to complex, known to unknown, and most frequently used to least frequently used.
PAST TO PRESENT
In this pattern of development, the subject matter is arranged chronologically, from the present to the past or from the past to the present. Time relationships are most suitable when history is an important consideration, as in tracing the development of radio navigation systems.
SIMPLE TO COMPLEX
The simple-to-complex pattern helps the instructor lead the student from simple facts or ideas to an understanding of involved phenomena or concepts. In studying jet propulsion, for example, the student might begin by considering the action involved in releasing air from a toy balloon and finish by taking part in a discussion of a complex gas turbine engine.
KNOWN TO UNKNOWN
By using something the student already knows as the point of departure, the instructor can lead into new ideas and concepts. For example, in developing a lesson on heading indicators, the instructor could begin with a discussion of the vacuum-driven heading indicator before proceeding to a description of the radio magnetic indicator (RMI).
MOST FREQUENTLY USED TO LEAST FREQUENTLY USED
In some subjects, certain information or concepts are common to all who use the material. This fourth organizational pattern starts with common usage before progressing to the rarer ones. When learning navigation, students should study frequently used pilotage, dead reckoning, and basic VOR/NDB radio navigation procedures before going on to area navigation procedures such as global positioning system (GPS) or inertial navigation system (INS).
Under each main point in a lesson, the subordinate points should lead naturally from one to the other. With this arrangement, each point leads logically into, and serves as a reminder of, the next. Meaningful transitions from one main point to another keep the students oriented, aware of where they have been, and where they are going. This permits effective sorting or categorizing chunks of information in the working or short-term memory. Organizing a lesson so the students will grasp the logical relationships of ideas is not an easy task, but it is necessary if the students are to learn and remember what they have learned. Poorly organized information is of little or no value to the student because it cannot be readily understood or remembered.
An effective conclusion retraces the important elements of the lesson and relates them to the objective. This review and wrap-up of ideas reinforces student learning and improves the retention of what has been learned. New ideas should not be introduced in the conclusion because at this point they are likely to confuse the students.
By organizing the lesson material into a logical format, the instructor has maximized the opportunity for students to retain the desired information. However, each teaching situation is unique. The setting and purpose of the lesson will determine which teaching method—lecture, guided discussion, demonstration-performance, cooperative or group learning, computer-based training, or a combination—will be used.
The lecture method is the most widely used form of presentation. Every instructor should know how to develop and present a lecture. They also should understand the advantages and limitations of this method. Lectures are used for introduction of new subjects, summarizing ideas, showing relationships between theory and practice, and reemphasizing main points. The lecture method is adaptable to many different settings, including either small or large groups. Lectures also may be used to introduce a unit of instruction or a complete training program. Finally, lectures may be combined with other teaching methods to give added meaning and direction.
The lecture method of teaching needs to be very flexible since it may be used in different ways. For example, there are several types of lectures such as the illustrated talk where the speaker relies heavily on visual aids to convey ideas to the listeners. With a briefing, the speaker presents a concise array of facts to the listeners who normally do not expect elaboration of supporting material. During a formal lecture, the speaker’s purpose is to inform, to persuade, or to entertain with little or no verbal participation by the students. When using a teaching lecture, the instructor plans and delivers an oral presentation in a manner that allows some participation by the students and helps direct them toward the desired learning outcomes.
The teaching lecture is favored by aviation instructors because it allows some active participation by the students. The instructor must determine the method to be used in developing the subject matter. The instructor also should carefully consider the class size and the depth of the presentation. As mentioned in Chapter 3, covering a subject in too much detail is as bad or worse than sketchy coverage. Regardless of the method of development or depth of coverage, the success of the teaching lecture depends upon the instructor’s ability to communicate effectively with the class.
In other methods of teaching such as demonstration-performance or guided discussion, the instructor receives direct reaction from the students, either verbally or by some form of body language. However, in the teaching lecture, the feedback is not nearly as obvious and is much harder to interpret. In the teaching lecture, the instructor must develop a keen perception for subtle responses from the class—facial expressions, manner of taking notes, and apparent interest or disinterest in the lesson. The successful instructor will be able to interpret the meaning of these reactions and adjust the lesson accordingly.
PREPARING THE TEACHING LECTURE
The competent instructor knows that careful preparation is one key to successful performance as a classroom lecturer. This preparation should start well in advance of the presentation. The following four steps should be followed in the planning phase of preparation:
- Establishing the objective and desired outcomes;
- Researching the subject;
- Organizing the material; and
- Planning productive classroom activities.
In all stages of preparing for the teaching lecture, the instructor should support any point to be covered with meaningful examples, comparisons, statistics, or testimony.The instructor should consider that the student may neither believe nor understand any point without the use of testimony from subject area experts or without meaningful examples, statistics, or comparisons. While developing the lesson, the instructor also should strongly consider the use of examples and personal experiences related to the subject of the lesson.
After completing the preliminary planning and writing of the lesson plan, the instructor should rehearse the lecture to build self-confidence. Rehearsals, or dry runs, help smooth out the mechanics of using notes, visual aids, and other instructional devices. If possible, the instructor should have another knowledgeable person, preferably another instructor, observe the practice sessions and act as a critic. This critique will help the instructor judge the adequacy of supporting materials and visual aids, as well as the presentation. [Figure 5-3]
In the teaching lecture, simple rather than complex words should be used whenever possible. Good newspapers offer examples of the effective use of simple words. Picturesque slang and free-and-easy colloquialisms, if they suit the subject, can add variety and vividness to a teaching lecture. The instructor should not, however, use substandard English. Errors in grammar and vulgarisms detract from an instructor’s dignity and reflect upon the intelligence of the students.
If the subject matter includes technical terms, the instructor should clearly define each one so that no student is in doubt about its meaning. Whenever possible, the instructor should use specific rather than general words. For example, the specific words, a leak in the fuel line, tell more than the general term, mechanical defect.
Another way the instructor can add life to the lecture is to vary his or her tone of voice and pace of speaking. In addition, using sentences of different length helps, since consistent use of short sentences results in a choppy style. Unless long sentences are carefully constructed, they are difficult to follow and can easily become tangled. To ensure clarity and variety, the instructor should normally use sentences of short and medium length.
TYPES OF DELIVERY
Lectures may include several different types of delivery. However, depending on the requirements of any particular circumstances, a lecture is usually delivered in one of four ways:
- Reading from a typed or written manuscript.
- Reciting memorized material without the aid of a manuscript.
- Speaking extemporaneously from an outline.
- Speaking impromptu without preparation.
The teaching lecture is probably best delivered in an extemporaneous manner. The instructor speaks from a mental or written outline, but does not read or memorize the material to be presented. Because the exact words to express an idea are spontaneous, the lecture is more personalized than one that is read or spoken from memory.
Since the instructor talks directly to the students, their reactions can be readily observed, and adjustments can be made based on their responses. The instructor has better control of the situation, can change the approach to meet any contingency, and can tailor each idea to suit the responses of the students. For example, if the instructor realizes from puzzled expressions that a number of students fail to grasp an idea, that point can be elaborated on until the reactions of the students indicate they understand. The extemporaneous presentation reflects the instructor’s personal enthusiasm and is more flexible than other methods. For these reasons, it is likely to hold the interest of the students.
USE OF NOTES
An instructor who is thoroughly prepared or who has made the presentation before can usually speak effectively without notes. If the lecture has been carefully prepared, and the instructor is completely familiar with the outline, there should be no real difficulty.
Notes used wisely can ensure accuracy, jog the memory, and dispel the fear of forgetting. They are essential for reporting complicated information. For an instructor who tends to ramble, notes are a must because they help keep the lecture on track. The instructor who requires notes should use them sparingly and unobtrusively, but at the same time should make no effort to hide them from the students. Notes may be written legibly or typed, and they should be placed where they can be consulted easily, or held, if the instructor walks about the room. [Figure 5-4]
FORMAL VERSUS INFORMAL LECTURES
The lecture may be conducted in either a formal or an informal manner. The informal lecture includes active student participation. The primary consideration in the lecture method, as in all other teaching methods, is the achievement of desired learning outcomes. Learning is best achieved if students participate actively in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere. Therefore, the use of the informal lecture is encouraged. At the same time, it must be realized that a formal lecture is still to be preferred on some subjects and occasions, such as lectures introducing new subject matter.
The instructor can achieve active student participation in the informal lecture through the use of questions. In this way, the students are encouraged to make contributions that supplement the lecture. The instructor can use questions to determine the experience and background of the students in order to tailor the lecture to their needs, and/or to add variety, stimulate interest, and check student understanding. However, it is the instructor’s responsibility to plan, organize, develop, and present the major portion of a lesson.
ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF THE LECTURE
There are a number of advantages to lectures. For example, a lecture is a convenient way to instruct large groups. If necessary, a public address system can be used to amplify the speaker’s voice. Lectures can be used to present information that would be difficult for the student to get in other ways, particularly if the students do not have the time required for research, or if they do not have access to reference material. Lectures also can usefully and successfully supplement other teaching devices and methods. A brief introductory lecture can give direction and purpose to a demonstration or prepare students for a discussion by telling them something about the subject matter to be covered.
In a lecture, the instructor can present many ideas in a relatively short time. Facts and ideas that have been logically organized can be concisely presented in rapid sequence. Lecturing is unquestionably the most economical of all teaching methods in terms of the time required to present a given amount of material.
The lecture is particularly suitable for introducing a new subject and for explaining the necessary background information. By using a lecture in this way, the instructor can offer students with varied backgrounds a common understanding of essential principles and facts.
Although the lecture method can help the instructor meet special challenges, it does have several drawbacks. Too often the lecture inhibits student participation and, as a consequence, many students willingly let the instructor do all the work. Learning is an active process, and the lecture method tends to foster passiveness and teacher-dependence on the part of the students. As a teaching method, the lecture does not bring about maximum attainment of certain types of learning outcomes. Motor skills, for example, can seldom be learned by listening to a lecture. The only effective way students can perfect such skills is through hands-on practice.
The lecture does not easily allow the instructor to estimate the students’ understanding as the material is covered. Within a single period, the instructor may unwittingly present more information than students can absorb, and the lecture method provides no accurate means of checking student progress.
Many instructors find it difficult to hold the attention of all students in a lecture throughout the class period. To achieve desired learning outcomes through the lecture method, an instructor needs considerable skill in speaking. As indicated in Chapter 1, a student’s rate of retention drops off significantly after the first 10-15 minutes of a lecture and picks back up at the end. In addition, the retention rate for a lecture is about five percent after 24 hours. In comparison, the rate of retention for active learning goes up dramatically. An instructor who can introduce some form of active student participation in the middle of a lecture will greatly increase retention. One form of active learning that has been successfully used is cooperative or group learning.
COOPERATIVE OR GROUP LEARNING METHOD
Cooperative or group learning is an instructional strategy which organizes students into small groups so that they can work together to maximize their own and each other’s learning. Numerous research studies in diverse school settings, and across a wide range of subject areas, indicate promising possibilities for academic achievement with this strategy. For example, advocates have noted that students completing cooperative learning group tasks tend to have higher test scores, higher self-esteem, improved social skills, and greater comprehension of the subjects they are studying. Numerous other benefits for students have been attributed to these programs. Perhaps the most significant characteristic of group learning is that it continually requires active participation of the student in the learning process.
CONDITIONS AND CONTROLS
In spite of its many advantages, cooperative or group learning is not a panacea for education or training. Virtually all studies and literature carefully mention that success depends on conditions that must be met and certain controls that must be in place. First of all, instructors need to begin planning early to determine what the student group is expected to learn and be able to do on their own. The end result of a curriculum unit or group task may emphasize academic achievement, cognitive abilities, or physical skills, but the instructor must describe in very unambiguous language the specific knowledge and/or abilities the students are to acquire and then demonstrate on their own. In addition to clear and specific learning outcomes or objectives, some of the other conditions and controls that may apply are discussed in the following paragraphs.
Instructors should organize small groups of approximately 3 to 6 members so that students are mixed heterogeneously, considering academic abilities, ethnic backgrounds, race, and gender. Students should not be allowed to form their own groups based on friendship or cliques. The main advantages with heterogeneous groups are that students tend to interact and achieve in ways and at levels that are rarely found with other instructional strategies. They also tend to become tolerant of diverse viewpoints, to consider the thoughts and feelings of others, and to seek more support and clarification of various opinions.
CLEAR, COMPLETE DIRECTIONS AND INSTRUCTIONS
Instructors need to provide directions and instructions that contain in clear, precise terms exactly what students are to do, in what order, with what materials, and when appropriate, what students are to generate as evidence of their mastery of targeted content and skills. These directions need to be given to the students before they engage in their group learning efforts.
ALL STUDENTS IN THE GROUP MUST BUY INTO THE TARGETED OBJECTIVES
Students must perceive these objectives as their own. They must understand and believe that everyone in the group needs to master the essential information and/or skills. In cases where groups select their own objectives, all members of the group must accept the objectives as ones they have agreed to achieve.
Instructors must structure learning tasks so students will believe that they sink or swim together. Thus, access to rewards is through membership in the group where all members receive a reward or no member does. This means tasks are structured so that students must depend upon one another for their group’s success in completing and mastering the targeted objectives.
OPPORTUNITY FOR SUCCESS
Every student must believe that he or she has an equal chance of learning the content and/or abilities, and earning the group rewards for success, regardless of the group he or she is in. In other words, the student must not feel penalized by being placed in a particular group.
ACCESS TO MUST-LEARN INFORMATION
Instructors must structure the tasks so that students have access to and comprehend the specific information that they must learn. The focus of learning tasks must be aligned with the specific objectives, as well as any test items that will be used to measure their achievement.
SUFFICIENT TIME FOR LEARNING
Each student and group should be provided the amount of time needed to learn the targeted information and/or abilities. If students do not spend sufficient time learning, the benefits will be limited. Research suggests that many of the positive values, social skills, and academic advantages of cooperative learning tend to emerge and be retained only after students have spent several weeks together in the same heterogeneous group.
POSITIVE SOCIAL INTERACTION BEHAVIORS AND ATTITUDES
Students should be positioned and postured to face each other for direct eye-to-eye contact and face-toface conversations. Just because students are placed in groups and expected to use appropriate social and group skills does not mean they will automatically use these skills. To work together as a group, students need to engage in such interactive abilities as leadership, trust-building, conflict management, constructive criticism, encouragement, compromise, negotiation, and clarification. Instructors may need to describe the expected social interaction behaviors and attitudes of students, and to assign particular students specific roles to ensure that they consciously work on these behaviors in their groups.
The main reason that students are put in cooperative learning groups is so they can individually achieve greater success than if they were to study alone. Thus, each student must be held individually responsible and accountable for doing his or her own share of the work and for learning what needs to be learned. As a result, each student must be formally and individually tested to determine mastery and retention of the targeted learning outcomes or training objectives.
RECOGNITION AND REWARDS FOR GROUP SUCCESS
Only members of groups who meet established levels for achievement receive the rewards or public recognition. The specific awards must be something valued by the students.
DEBRIEF ON GROUP EFFORTS
Students should spend time after the group tasks have been completed to systematically reflect upon how they worked together as a team—specifically how well they achieved their group objectives; how they helped each other comprehend the content, resources, and task procedures; how they used positive behaviors and attitudes to enable each individual and the entire group to be successful; and what they need to do in the future to be even more successful.
All of the preceding conditions and controls do not have to be used every time an instructor assigns students to work in groups. In practice, cooperative or group learning in aviation training is normally modified to adapt to school policy or for other valid reasons. For example, collaborative, student-led, instructor-led, or working group strategies are alternatives to a pure form of group learning. In these examples, the student leader or the instructor serves as a coach or facilitator who interacts with the group, as necessary, to keep it on track or to encourage everyone in the group to participate.
GUIDED DISCUSSION METHOD
In the guided discussion method, as is true with any group learning effort, the instructor typically relies on the students to provide ideas, experiences, opinions, and information. An instructor may use this method during classroom periods, and preflight and postflight briefings, after the students have gained some knowledge and experience. Fundamentally, the guided discussion method is almost the opposite of the lecture method. The instructor’s goal is to draw out what the students know, rather than to spend the class period telling them. The instructor should remember that the more intense the discussion and the greater the participation, the more effective the learning. All members of the group should follow the discussion. The instructor should treat everyone impartially, encourage questions, exercise patience and tact, and comment on all responses. Sarcasm or ridicule should never be used, since it inhibits the spontaneity of the participants. In a guided discussion, the instructor acts as a facilitator to encourage discussion between students.
USE OF QUESTIONS IN A GUIDED DISCUSSION
In the guided discussion, learning is achieved through the skillful use of questions. Questions can be categorized by function and by characteristics. Understanding these distinctions helps the instructor become a more skilled user of questions.
The instructor often uses a question to open up an area for discussion. This is the lead-off question and its function is indicated by its name. The purpose is to get the discussion started. After the discussion develops, the instructor may ask a follow-up question to guide the discussion. The reasons for using a follow-up question may vary. The instructor may want a student to explain something more thoroughly, or may need to bring the discussion back to a point from which it has strayed.
In terms of characteristics, questions can be identified as overhead, rhetorical, direct, reverse, and relay. The overhead question is directed to the entire group to stimulate the thought and response from each group member. The instructor may use an overhead question to pose the lead-off question. The rhetorical question is similar in nature, because it also spurs group thought. However, the instructor provides the answer to the rhetorical question. Consequently, it is more commonly used in lecturing than in guided discussion.
The instructor who wants to phrase a question for follow-up purposes may choose the overhead type. If, however, a response is desired from a specific individual, a direct question may be asked of that student. A reverse question is used in response to a student’s question. Rather than give a direct answer to the student’s query, the instructor can redirect the question to another student to provide the answer. A relay question is redirected to the group instead of the individual.
Questions are so much a part of teaching that they are often taken for granted. Effective use of questions may result in more student learning than any other single technique used by instructors. In general, instructors should ask open-ended questions that are thought provoking and require more mental activity than simply remembering facts. Since most aviation training is at the understanding level of learning, or higher, questions should require students to grasp concepts, explain similarities and differences, and to infer cause-andeffect relationships. [Figure 5-5]
PLANNING A GUIDED DISCUSSION
Planning a guided discussion is basically the same as planning a lecture. The instructor will find the following suggestions helpful in planning a discussion lesson.
Note that these same suggestions include many that are appropriate for planning cooperative learning.
- Select a topic the students can profitably discuss. Unless the students have some knowledge to exchange with each other, they cannot reach the desired learning outcomes by the discussion method. If necessary, make assignments that will give the students an adequate background for discussing the lesson topic.
- Establish a specific lesson objective with desired learning outcomes. Through discussion, the students develop an understanding of the subject by sharing knowledge, experiences, and backgrounds. Consequently, the objective normally is stated at the understanding level of learning. The desired learning outcomes should stem from the objective.
- Conduct adequate research to become familiar with the topic. While researching, the instructor should always be alert for ideas on the best way to tailor a lesson for a particular group of students. Similarly, the instructor can prepare the pre-discussion assignment more effectively while conducting research for the classroom period. During this research process, the instructor should also earmark reading material that appears to be especially appropriate as background material for students. Such material should be well organized and based on fundamentals.
- Organize the main and subordinate points of the lesson in a logical sequence. The guided discussion has three main parts—introduction, discussion, and conclusion. The introduction consists of three elements—attention, motivation, and overview. In the discussion, the instructor should be certain that the main points discussed build logically with the objective. The conclusion consists of the summary, remotivation, and closure. By organizing in this manner, the instructor phrases the questions to help the students obtain a firm grasp of the subject matter and to minimize the possibility of a rambling discussion.
- Plan at least one lead-off question for each desired learning outcome. In preparing questions, the instructor should remember that the purpose is to stimulate discussion, not merely to get answers. The instructor should avoid questions that require only short categorical answers, such as yes or no. Lead-off questions should usually begin with how or why. For example, it is better, to ask “Why does an airplane normally require a longer takeoff run at Denver than at New Orleans?” instead of, “Would you expect an airplane to require a longer takeoff run at Denver or at New Orleans?” Students can answer the second question
by merely saying “Denver,” but the first question is likely to start a discussion of air density, engine efficiency, and the effect of temperature on performance.
STUDENT PREPARATION FOR A GUIDED DISCUSSION
It is the instructor’s responsibility to help students prepare themselves for the discussion. Each student should be encouraged to accept responsibility for contributing to the discussion and benefiting from it. Throughout the time the instructor prepares the students for their discussion, they should be made aware of the lesson objective. In certain instances, the instructor has no opportunity to assign preliminary work and must face the students cold for the first time. In such cases, it is practical and advisable to give the students a brief general survey of the topic during the introduction. Normally students should not be asked to discuss a subject without some background in that subject.
GUIDING A DISCUSSION— INSTRUCTOR TECHNIQUE
The techniques used to guide a discussion require practice and experience. The instructor needs to keep up with the discussion and know where to intervene with questions or redirect the group’s focus. The following information provides a framework for successfully conducting the guided discussion.
A guided discussion lesson is introduced in the same manner as the lecture. The introduction should include an attention element, a motivation element, and an overview of key points. To encourage enthusiasm and stimulate discussion, the instructor should create a relaxed, informal atmosphere. Each student should be given the opportunity to discuss the various aspects of the subject, and feel free to do so. Moreover, the student should feel a personal responsibility to contribute. The instructor should try to make the students feel that their ideas and active participation are wanted and needed.
The instructor opens the discussion by asking one of the prepared lead-off questions. After asking a question, the instructor should be patient. The students should be given a chance to react. The instructor should have the answer in mind before asking the question, but the students have to think about the question before answering. Sometimes an instructor finds it difficult to be patient while students figure out answers. Keep in mind that it takes time to recall data, determine how to answer, or to think of an example.
The more difficult the question, the more time the students will need to produce an answer. Sometimes students do not understand the question. Whenever the instructor sees puzzled expressions, the question should be rephrased in a slightly different form. The nature of the questions should be determined by the lesson objective and desired learning outcomes.
Once the discussion is underway, the instructor should listen attentively to the ideas, experiences, and examples contributed by the students during the discussion. Remember that during the preparation, the instructor listed some of the anticipated responses that would, if discussed by the students, indicate that they had a firm grasp of the subject. As the discussion proceeds, the instructor may find it necessary to guide the direction, to stimulate the students to explore the subject in greater depth, or to encourage them to discuss the topic in more detail. By using how and why follow-up questions, the instructor should be able to guide the discussion toward the objective of helping students understand the subject.
When it appears the students have discussed the ideas that support this particular part of the lesson, the instructor should summarize what the students have accomplished. In a guided discussion lesson, the interim summary is one of the most effective tools available to the instructor. To bring ideas together and help in transition, an interim summary can be made immediately after the discussion of each learning outcome. This will summarize the ideas developed by the group and show how they relate to, and support, the idea discussed. The interim summary may be omitted after discussing the last learning outcome when it is more expedient for the instructor to present the first part of the conclusion. An interim summary reinforces learning in relation to a specific learning outcome. In addition to its uses as a summary and transitional device, the interim summary may also be used to keep the group on the subject or to divert the discussion to another member.
A guided discussion is closed by summarizing the material covered. In the conclusion the instructor should tie together the various points or topics discussed, and show the relationships between the facts brought forth and the practical application of these facts. For example, in concluding a discussion on density altitude, an instructor might give a fairly complete description of an accident which occurred due to a pilot attempting to take off in an overloaded airplane from a short runway at a high-altitude airport on a hot day.
The summary should be succinct, but not incomplete. If the discussion has revealed that certain areas are not understood by one or more members of the group, the instructor should clarify or cover this material again.
This method of teaching is based on the simple, yet sound principle that we learn by doing. Students learn physical or mental skills by actually performing those skills under supervision. An individual learns to write by writing, to weld by welding, and to fly an aircraft by actually performing flight maneuvers. Students also learn mental skills, such as speed reading, by this method. Skills requiring the use of tools, machines, and equipment are particularly well suited to this instructional method.
Every instructor should recognize the importance of student performance in the learning process. Early in a lesson that is to include demonstration and performance, the instructor should identify the most important learning outcomes. Next, explain and demonstrate the steps involved in performing the skill being taught. Then, allow students time to practice each step, so they can increase their ability to perform the skill.
The demonstration-performance method is widely used. The science teacher uses it during laboratory periods, the aircraft maintenance instructor uses it in the shop, and the flight instructor uses it in teaching piloting skills. [Figure 5-6]
Explanations must be clear, pertinent to the objectives of the particular lesson to be presented, and based on the known experience and knowledge of the students. In teaching a skill, the instructor must convey to the students the precise actions they are to perform. In addition to the necessary steps, the instructor should describe the end result of these efforts. Before leaving this phase, the instructor should encourage students to ask questions about any step of the procedure that they do not understand.
The instructor must show students the actions necessary to perform a skill. As little extraneous activity as possible should be included in the demonstration if students are to clearly understand that the instructor is accurately performing the actions previously explained. If, due to some unanticipated circumstances the demonstration does not closely conform to the explanation, this deviation should be immediately acknowledged and explained.
STUDENT PERFORMANCE AND INSTRUCTOR SUPERVISION PHASES
Because these two phases, which involve separate actions, are performed concurrently, they are discussed here under a single heading. The first of these phases is the student’s performance of the physical or mental skills that have been explained and demonstrated. The second activity is the instructor’s supervision.
Student performance requires students to act and do. To learn skills, students must practice. The instructor must, therefore, allot enough time for meaningful student activity. Through doing, students learn to follow correct procedures and to reach established standards. It is important that students be given an opportunity to perform the skill as soon as possible after a demonstration. In flight training, the instructor may allow the student to follow along on the controls during the demonstration of a maneuver. Immediately thereafter, the instructor should have the student attempt to perform the maneuver, coaching as necessary. In another example, students have been performing a task, such as a weight and balance computation, as a group. Prior to terminating the performance phase, they should be allowed to independently complete the task at least once, with supervision and coaching as necessary.
In this phase, the instructor judges student performance. The student displays whatever competence has been attained, and the instructor discovers just how well the skill has been learned. To test each student’s ability to perform, the instructor requires students to work independently throughout this phase and makes some comment as to how each performed the skill relative to the way it was taught. From this measurement of student achievement, the instructor determines the effectiveness of the instruction.
COMPUTER–BASED TRAINING METHOD
Many new and innovative training technologies are available today. One of the most significant is computer-based training (CBT)—the use of the personal computer as a training device. CBT is sometimes called computer-based instruction (CBI). The terms CBT and CBI are synonymous and may be used interchangeably. The personal computer or PC has revolutionized the way businesses function and promises the same for education and training. The new generation is as comfortable with the PC as they are with the telephone. As a result, educators today are using personal computers as part of educational programs of all types.
For example, major aircraft manufacturers allocate considerable resources to developing CBT programs that are used to teach aircraft systems and maintenance procedures. As a result, the amount of manpower necessary to train aircrews and maintenance technicians on the new equipment has been significantly reduced. End users of the aircraft, such as the major airlines, can purchase the package of CBT materials along with the aircraft in order to accomplish both initial and recurrent training of their personnel. One of the major advantages of CBT is that students can progress at a rate which is comfortable for them. The students also are often able to access the CBT at their own convenience rather than that of the instructor.
Computers are now used for training at many different levels. One example that is very significant is the high technology flight training devices and flight simulators in use by everyone from flight schools to major airlines, as well as the military. Fixed-base operators (FBOs) who offer instrument training may use personal computer-based aviation training devices (PCATDs) or flight training devices (FTDs) for a portion of the instrument time a pilot needs for the instrument rating. Major airlines have high-level flight simulators that are so realistic that transitioning captains meet all qualifications in the flight simulator. Likewise, military pilots use flight training devices or flight simulators to prepare for flying aircraft, such as the A-10, for which there are no two-seat training versions.
Other common examples of CBT include the computer versions of the test prep study guides which are useful for preparation for the FAA knowledge tests. These programs typically allow the students to select a test, complete the questions, and find out how they did on the test. The student may then conduct a review of questions missed.
Some of the more advanced CBT applications allow students to progress through a series of interactive segments where the presentation varies as a result of their responses. If students wish to learn about a particular area, they do so by clicking the mouse on a particular portion of the screen. They can focus on the area they either need to study or want to study. For example, a maintenance student who wants to find information on the refueling of a specific aircraft could use a CBT program to access the refueling section, and study the entire procedure. If the student wishes to repeat a section or a portion of the section, it can be done at any time merely by clicking on the appropriate icon.
Another term in computer training is computer assisted instruction—the use of the computer as a tool. This is much more descriptive of the way instructors should utilize the computer in aviation training. The computer may be used as described in the previous paragraph, as well as in many other ways. However, since aviation training is all encompassing and dynamic, entrusting an entire training program to a computer is not practical. Even airline simulator programs require tailoring and hands-on interaction with a human instructor.
For most aviation training, the computer should be thought of as a very valuable tool to be used to aid the instructor. For example, in teaching aircraft maintenance, CBT programs produced by various aircraft manufacturers can be used to expose students to equipment not normally found at a maintenance school. Another use of computers would be to allow students to review procedures at their own pace while the instructor is involved in hands-on training with other students. The major advantage of CBT over other forms of instructional aid is that it is interactive—the computer responds in different ways, depending on the student’s input.
While computers provide many training advantages, they also have limitations. Improper or excessive use of CBT should be avoided. For example, a flight instructor should not rely exclusively on a CBT program on traffic patterns and landings to do the ground instruction for a student pilot, then expect the student to demonstrate patterns and landings in the aircraft. Likewise, it would be improper to expect a maintenance student to be able to safely and properly perform a compression check on an aircraft engine if the only training the student received was via CBT. Computer-based training should not be used by the instructor as stand-alone training any more than a textbook or video. Like video or a textbook, CBT is an aid to the instructor. The instructor must be actively involved with the students when using instructional aids. This involvement should include close supervision, questions, examinations, quizzes, or guided discussions on the subject matter.
In teaching flight students, CBT programs can be used by the instructor as simply another form of reference for students to study. Just as a student can reread a section in a text, a student can review portions of a CBT program until it is understood. The instructor must continue to monitor and evaluate the progress of the student as usual. This is necessary to be certain a student is on track with the training syllabus. At times, instructors may feel that they are doing more one-on-one instruction than in a normal classroom setting, but repetitive forms of teaching may be accomplished by computer. This actually gives the instructor more time for one-onone teaching. Remember, the computer has no way of knowing when a student is having difficulty, and it will always be the responsibility of the instructor to provide monitoring and oversight of student progress and to intervene when necessary. [Figure 5-7]
A successful instructor needs to be familiar with as many teaching methods as possible. Although lecture and demonstration-performance may be the methods used most often, being aware of other methods and teaching tools such as guided discussion, cooperative learning, and computer-based instruction will better prepare an instructor for a wide variety of teaching situations.
Obviously the aviation instructor is the key to effective teaching. An experienced instructor’s knowledge and skill regarding methods of instruction may be compared to a maintenance technician’s toolbox. The instructor’s tools are teaching methods. Just as the technician uses some tools more than others, the instructor will use some methods more often than others. As is the case with the technician, there will be times when a less used tool will be the exact tool needed for a particular situation. The instructor’s success is determined to a large degree by the ability to organize material and to select and utilize a teaching method appropriate to a particular lesson.