Aviation Instructors Handbook | Chapter 10
This chapter is oriented to the beginning instructor who may be instructing independently outside of a formal training organization such as a pilot school. Independent instructors who learn to plan instructional activity effectively can provide high-quality training on an individual basis.
Any instructional activity must be well planned and organized if it is to proceed in an effective manner. Much of the basic planning necessary for the flight and ground instructor is provided by the knowledge and proficiency requirements published in Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR), approved school syllabi, and the various texts, manuals, and training courses available. This chapter reviews the planning required by the professional aviation instructor as it relates to four key topics—course of training, blocks of learning, training syllabus, and lesson plans.
COURSE OF TRAINING
In education, a course of training may be defined as a complete series of studies leading to attainment of a specific goal. The goal might be a certificate of completion, graduation, or an academic degree. For example, a student pilot may enroll in a private pilot certificate course, and upon completion of all course requirements, be awarded a graduation certificate. A course of training also may be limited to something like the additional training required for operating high-performance airplanes.
Other terms closely associated with a course of training include curriculum, syllabus, and training course outline. In many cases, these terms are used interchangeably, but there are important differences.
A curriculum may be defined as a set of courses in an area of specialization offered by an educational institution. A curriculum for a pilot school usually includes courses for the various pilot certificates and ratings. A syllabus is a summary or outline of a course of study. In aviation, the term “training syllabus” is commonly used. In this context, a training syllabus is a step-bystep, building block progression of learning with provisions for regular review and evaluations at prescribed stages of learning. The syllabus defines the unit of training, states by objective what the student is expected to accomplish during the unit of training, shows an organized plan for instruction, and dictates the evaluation process for either the unit or stages of learning. And, finally, a training course outline, within a curriculum, may be described as the content of a particular course. It normally includes statements of objectives, descriptions of teaching aids, definitions of evaluating criteria, and indications of desired outcome.
OBJECTIVES AND STANDARDS
Before any important instruction can begin, a determination of objectives and standards is necessary. Considerable theory regarding objectives and standards has been included in previous chapters. The theory described performance-based objectives as they relate to development of individual lessons and test items. The desired level of learning should also be incorporated into the objectives. In addition, level-of-learning objectives may apply to one or more of the three domains of learning—cognitive (knowledge), affective (attitudes, beliefs, and values), and psychomotor (physical skills). Normally, aviation training aspires to a level-of-learning at the application level or higher.
Standards are closely tied to objectives, since they include a description of the desired knowledge, behavior, or skill stated in specific terms, along with conditions and criteria. When a student is able to perform according to well-defined standards, evidence of learning is apparent. Comprehensive examples of the desired learning outcomes, or behaviors, should be included in the standards. As indicated in Chapter 1, standards for the level-of-learning in the cognitive and psychomotor domains are easily established. However, writing standards to evaluate a student’s level-of-learning or overt behavior in the affective domain (attitudes, beliefs, and values) is more difficult.
The overall objective of an aviation training course is usually well established, and the general standards are included in various rules and related publications. For example, eligibility, knowledge, proficiency, and experience requirements for pilots and maintenance students are stipulated in the regulations, and the standards are published in the applicable practical test standards (PTS) or Oral and Practical Tests (O&P). It should be noted, though, that the PTS and O & P standards are limited to the most critical job tasks. Certification tests do not represent an entire training syllabus.
A broad, overall objective of any pilot training course is to qualify the student to be a competent, efficient, safe pilot for the operation of specific aircraft types under stated conditions. The established criteria or standards to determine whether the training has been adequate are the passing of knowledge and practical tests required by 14 CFR for the issuance of pilot certificates. Similar objectives and standards are established for aviation maintenance technician (AMT) students. Professional instructors should not limit their objectives to meeting only the published requirements for pilot or AMT certification. Instructional objectives should also extend beyond those listed in official publications. Successful instructors teach their students not only how, but also why and when. Ultimately, this leads to sound judgment and decision-making skills.
BLOCKS OF LEARNING
After the overall training objectives have been established, the next step is the identification of the blocks of learning which constitute the necessary parts of the total objective. Just as in building a pyramid, some blocks are submerged in the structure and never appear on the surface, but each is an integral and necessary part of the structure. Stated another way, the various blocks are not isolated subjects but essential parts of the whole. During the process of identifying the blocks of learning to be assembled for the proposed training activity, the planner must also examine each carefully to see that it is truly an integral part of the structure. Extraneous blocks of instruction are expensive frills, especially in flight instruction, and detract from, rather than assist in, the completion of the final objective.
While determining the overall training objectives is a necessary first step in the planning process, early identification of the foundation blocks of learning is also essential. Training for any such complicated and involved task as piloting or maintaining an aircraft requires the development and assembly of many segments or blocks of learning in their proper relationships. In this way, a student can master the segments or blocks individually and can progressively combine these with other related segments until their sum meets the overall training objectives.
The blocks of learning identified during the planning and management of a training activity should be fairly consistent in scope. They should represent units of learning which can be measured and evaluated—not a sequence of periods of instruction. For example, the flight training of a private pilot might be divided into the following major blocks: achievement of the knowledge and skills necessary for solo, the knowledge and skills necessary for solo cross-country flight, and the knowledge and skills appropriate for obtaining a private pilot certificate. [Figure 10-1]
Use of the building block approach provides the student with a boost in self-confidence. This normally occurs each time a block is completed. Otherwise an overall goal, such as earning a private pilot certificate, may seem unobtainable. If the larger blocks are broken down into smaller blocks of instruction, each on its own is more manageable.
There are a number of valid reasons why all aviation instructors should use a training syllabus. As technology advances, training requirements become more demanding. At the same time, new, and often more complicated rules continue to be proposed and implemented. In addition, the rules for instruction in other than an approved flight school are still quite specific about the type and duration of training. These factors, along with the continuing growth of aviation, add to the complexity of aviation training and certification. Instructors need a practical guide to help them make sure the training is accomplished in a logical sequence and that all of the requirements are completed and properly documented. A well organized, comprehensive syllabus can fulfill these needs.
SYLLABUS FORMAT AND CONTENT
The format and organization of the syllabus may vary, but it always should be in the form of an abstract or digest of the course of training. It should contain blocks of learning to be completed in the most efficient order.
Since a syllabus is intended to be a summary of a course of training, it should be fairly brief, yet comprehensive enough to cover essential information. This information is usually presented in an outline format with lesson-by-lesson coverage. Some syllabi include tables to show recommended training time for each lesson, as well as the overall minimum time requirements. [Figure 10-2]
While many instructors may develop their own training syllabi, there are many well-designed commercial products that may be used. These are found in various training manuals, approved school syllabi, and other publications available from industry.
Syllabi developed for approved flight schools contain specific information that is outlined in 14 CFR parts 141 and 147. In contrast, syllabi designed for training in other than approved schools may not provide certain details such as enrollment prerequisites, planned completion times, and descriptions of checks and tests to measure student accomplishments for each stage of training.
Since effective training relies on organized blocks of learning, all syllabi should stress well-defined objec-tives and standards for each lesson. Appropriate objectives and standards should be established for the overall course, the separate ground and flight segments, and for each stage of training. Other details may be added to a syllabus in order to explain how to use it and describe the pertinent training and reference materials. Examples of the training and reference materials include textbooks, video, compact disks, exams, briefings and instructional guides.
HOW TO USE A TRAINING SYLLABUS
Any practical training syllabus must be flexible, and should be used primarily as a guide. When necessary, the order of training can and should be altered to suit the progress of the student and the demands of special circumstances. For example, previous experience or different rates of learning often will require some alteration or repetition to fit individual students. The syllabus also should be flexible enough so it can be adapted to weather variations, aircraft availability, and scheduling changes without disrupting the teaching process or completely suspending training.
In departing from the order prescribed by the syllabus, however, it is the responsibility of the instructor to consider how the relationships of the blocks of learning are affected. It is often preferable to skip to a completely different part of the syllabus when the conduct of a scheduled lesson is impossible, rather than proceeding to the next block, which may be predicated completely on skills to be developed during the lesson which is being postponed.
Each approved training course provided by a certificated pilot school should be conducted in accordance with a training syllabus specifically approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). At certificated schools, the syllabus is a key part of the training course outline. The instructional facilities, airport, aircraft, and instructor personnel must be able to support the course of training specified in the syllabus. Compliance with the appropriate, approved syllabus is a condition for graduation from such courses. Therefore, effective use of a syllabus requires that it be referred to throughout the entire course of training. Both the instructor and the student should have a copy of the approved syllabus. However, as previously mentioned, a syllabus should not be adhered to so stringently that it becomes inflexible or unchangeable. It must be flexible enough to adapt to special needs of individual students.
Ground training lessons concentrate on the cognitive domain of learning. A typical lesson might include several knowledge areas. Many of these knowledge areas are directly or indirectly concerned with safety, aeronautical decision making, and judgment. These subjects tend to be closely associated with the affective domain of learning. Thus, instructors who find a way to stress safety, ADM, and judgment, along with the traditional aviation subjects, can favorably influence a student’s attitude, beliefs, and values.
Flight training lessons also include knowledge areas, but they generally emphasize the psychomotor domain of learning. In addition, the affective domain of learning is also important in flight training. A student’s attitude, especially toward flight safety, ADM, and judgment, should be a major concern of the instructor. [Figure 10-3]
Individual flight lessons are much like ground lessons. Organization and format are similar. The lesson shown in figure 10-3 is an example showing the main elements.
A syllabus should include special emphasis items that have been determined to be cause factors in aircraft accidents or incidents. For example, the instructor should emphasize collision and wake turbulence avoidance procedures throughout a student’s flight training.
A syllabus lesson may include several other items that add to or clarify the objective, content, or standards. A lesson may specify the recommended class time, reference or study materials, recommended sequence of training, and study assignment for the next lesson. Both ground and flight lessons may have explanatory information notes added to specific lessons. [Figure 10-4]
While a syllabus is designed to provide a road map showing how to accomplish the overall objective of a course of training, it may be useful for other purposes. As already mentioned, it can be used as a checklist to ensure that required training has successfully been completed. Thus, a syllabus can be an effective tool for record keeping. Enhanced syllabi, which also are designed for record keeping, can be very beneficial to the independent instructor.
This record-keeping function is usually facilitated by boxes or blank spaces adjacent to the knowledge areas, procedures, or maneuvers in a flight lesson. Most syllabi introduce each procedure or maneuver in one flight lesson and review them in subsequent lessons. Some syllabi also include provisions for grading student performance and recording both ground and flight training time. Accurate record keeping is necessary to keep both the student and the instructor informed on the status of training. These records also serve as a basis for endorsements and recommendations for knowledge and practical tests.
Another benefit of using a syllabus is that it helps in development of lesson plans. A well constructed syllabus already contains much of the essential information that is required in a lesson plan, including objectives, content, and completion standards.
A lesson plan is an organized outline for a single instructional period. It is a necessary guide for the instructor in that it tells what to do, in what order to do it, and what procedure to use in teaching the material of a lesson. Lesson plans should be prepared for each training period and be developed to show specific knowledge and/or skills to be taught.
A mental outline of a lesson is not a lesson plan. A lesson plan should be put into writing. Another instructor should be able to take the lesson plan and know what to do in conducting the same period of instruction. When putting it in writing, the lesson plan can be analyzed from the standpoint of adequacy and completeness.
PURPOSE OF THE LESSON PLAN
Lesson plans are designed to assure that each student receives the best possible instruction under the existing conditions. Lesson plans help instructors keep a constant check on their own activity, as well as that of their students. The development of lesson plans by instructors signifies, in effect, that they have taught the lessons to themselves prior to attempting to teach the lessons to students. An adequate lesson plan, when properly used, should:
- Assure a wise selection of material and the elimination of unimportant details.
- Make certain that due consideration is given to each part of the lesson.
- Aid the instructor in presenting the material in a suitable sequence for efficient learning.
- Provide an outline of the teaching procedure to be used.
- Serve as a means of relating the lesson to the objectives of the course of training.
- Give the inexperienced instructor confidence.
- Promote uniformity of instruction regardless of the instructor or the date on which the lesson is given.
CHARACTERISTICS OF A WELL-PLANNED LESSON
The quality of planning affects the quality of results. Successful professionals understand the price of excellence is hard work and thorough preparation. The effective instructor realizes that the time and energy spent in planning and preparing each lesson is well worth the effort in the long run.
A complete cycle of planning usually includes several steps. After the objective is determined, the instructor must research the subject as it is defined by the objective. Once the research is complete, the instructor must determine the method of instruction and identify a useful lesson planning format. Other steps, such as deciding how to organize the lesson and selecting suitable support material also must be accomplished. The final steps include assembling training aids and writing the lesson plan outline. One technique for writing the lesson plan outline is to prepare the beginning and ending first. Then, complete the outline and revise as required. A lesson plan should be a working document that can and should be revised as changes occur or are needed. The following are some of the important characteristics that should be reflected in all well-planned lessons.
- Unity—Each lesson should be a unified segment of instruction. A lesson is concerned with certain limited objectives, which are stated in terms of desired student learning outcomes. All teaching procedures and materials should be selected to attain these objectives.
- Content—Each lesson should contain new material. However, the new facts, principles, procedures, or skills should be related to the lesson previously presented. A short review of earlier lessons is usually necessary, particularly in flight training.
- Scope—Each lesson should be reasonable in scope. A person can master only a few principles or skills at a time, the number depending on complexity. Presenting too much material in a lesson results in confusion; presenting too little material results in inefficiency.
- Practicality—Each lesson should be planned in terms of the conditions under which the training is to be conducted. Lesson plans conducted in an airplane or ground trainer will differ from those conducted in a classroom. Also, the kinds and quantities of instructional aids available have a great influence on lesson planning and instructional procedures.
- Flexibility—Although the lesson plan provides an outline and sequence for the training to be conducted, a degree of flexibility should be incorporated. For example, the outline of content may include blank spaces for add-on material, if required.
- Relation to Course of Training—Each lesson should be planned and taught so that its relation to the course objectives are clear to each student. For example, a lesson on short-field takeoffs and landings should be related to both the certification and safety objectives of the course of training.
- Instructional Steps—Every lesson, when adequately developed, falls logically into the four steps of the teaching process— preparation, presentation, application, and review and evaluation.
HOW TO USE A LESSON PLAN PROPERLY
- Be Familiar with the Lesson Plan—The instructor should study each step of the plan and should be thoroughly familiar with as much information related to the subject as possible.
- Use the Lesson Plan as a Guide—The lesson plan is an outline for conducting an instructional period. It assures that pertinent materials are at hand and that the presentation is accomplished with order and unity. Having a plan prevents the instructor from getting off the track, omitting essential points, and introducing irrelevant material. Students have a right to expect an instructor to give the same attention to teaching that they give to learning. The most certain means of achieving teaching success is to have a carefully thought-out lesson plan.
- Adapt the Lesson Plan to the Class or Student— In teaching a ground school period, the instructor may find that the procedures outlined in the lesson plan are not leading to the desired results. In this situation, the instructor should change the approach. There is no certain way of predicting the reactions of different groups of students. An approach that has been successful with one group may not be equally successful with another.
A lesson plan for an instructional flight period should be appropriate to the background, flight experience, and ability of the particular student. A lesson plan may have to be modified considerably during flight, due to deficiencies in the student’s knowledge or poor mastery of elements essential to the effective completion of the lesson. In some cases, the entire lesson plan may have to be abandoned in favor of review.
• Revise the Lesson Plan Periodically—After a lesson plan has been prepared for a training period, a continuous revision may be necessary. This is true for a number of reasons, including availability or nonavailability of instructional aids, changes in regulations, new manuals and textbooks, and changes in the state-of-the art among others.
LESSON PLAN FORMATS
The format and style of a lesson plan depends on several factors. Certainly the subject matter has a lot to do with how a lesson is presented and what teaching method is used. Individual lesson plans may be quite simple for one-on-one training, or they may be elaborate and complicated for large, structured classroom lessons. Preferably, each lesson should have somewhat limited objectives that are achievable within a reasonable period of time. This principle should apply to both ground and flight training. However, as previously noted, aviation training is not simple. It involves all three domains of learning, and the objectives usually include the higher levels of learning, at least at the application level.
In spite of need for varied subject coverage, diverse teaching methods, and relatively high level learning objectives, most aviation lesson plans have the common characteristics already discussed. They all should include objectives, content to support the objectives, and completion standards. Various authorities often divide the main headings into several subheadings, and terminology, even for the main headings, varies extensively. For example, completion standards may be called assessment, review and feedback, performance evaluation, or some other related term.
Commercially-developed lesson plans are acceptable for most training situations, including use by flight instructor applicants during their practical tests. However, all instructors should recognize that even well-designed preprinted lesson plans may need to be modified. Therefore, instructors are encouraged to use creativity when adapting preprinted lesson plans or when developing their own lesson plans for specific students or training circumstances.
As indicated by much of this discussion, the main concern in developing a lesson plan is the student. With this in mind, it is apparent that one format does not work well for all students, or for all training situations. Because of the broad range of aviation training requirements, a variety of lesson plans and lesson plan formats is recommended. Examples of various lesson plans and lesson plan formats are included in the following pages.
This is an example of the lesson plan designed for a traditional ground school in a classroom environment.
In this example, the lesson plan is specifically intended to help a student who is having difficulty with crosswind approaches and landings.
This example lesson plan may be used for ground training in a personal computer-based aviation training device (PCATD) or a flight training device (FTD).10-10
This is a typical lesson plan for flight training which emphasizes stall recognition and recovery procedures.
This is a specialized flight training lesson plan for multi-engine transition.
In this example, an aviation maintenance training lesson plan emphasizes safety.