Chapter 2. The Learning Process

Psychomotor Domain

The psychomotor domain is skill based and includes physical movement, coordination, and use of the motor-skill areas. [Figure 2-12] Development of these skills requires repetitive practice and is measured in terms of speed, precision, distance, and techniques. While various examples of the psychomotor domain exist, the practical instructional levels for aviation training purposes include observation, imitation, practice, and habit. This domain is an important component of instruction when aviation instructors prepare students for the practical test.

At the first level, the learner observes a more experienced person perform the skill. The instructor has the learner observe sequences and relationships that lead to the finished product. Observation may be supplemented by reading, watching a DVD, or computer-based training. The second level is imitation in which the learner attempts to copy the skill under the watchful eye of the instructor.

The practice level is a proficiency building experience in which the learner tries a specific activity over and over. It may be conducted by the learner without direct oversight of the instructor, such as touch-and-go landings for the flight student who has flown a successful solo flight. The habit level is reached when the student can perform the skill in twice the time that it takes the instructor or an expert to perform. The evaluation of ability is a performance or skill test. If a person continues to perfect a skill, it eventually becomes a skill performed at the expert level.

Skills involving the psychomotor domain include learning to fly a precision instrument approach procedure, programming a global positioning system (GPS) receiver, or using sophisticated maintenance equipment. As physical tasks and equipment become more complex, the requirement for integration of cognitive and physical skills increases.

Summary of Instructor Actions

To help students acquire knowledge, the instructor should:

  • Ask students to recite or practice newly acquired knowledge.
  • Ask questions that probe student understanding and prompt them to think about what they have learned in different ways.
  • Present opportunities for students to apply what they know to solving problems or making decisions.
  • Present students with problems and decisions that test the limits of their knowledge.
  • Demonstrate the benefits of understanding and being able to apply knowledge.
  • Introduce new topics as they support the objectives of the lesson, whenever possible.

These additional levels of learning are the basis of the knowledge, attitude, and skill learning objectives commonly used in advanced qualification programs for airline training. They also can be tied to the PTS to show the level of knowledge or skill required for a particular task. A list of action verbs for the three domains shows appropriate behavioral objectives at each level. [Figure 2-13] Instructors who are familiar with curriculum development recognize that the action verbs are examples of performance-based objectives.

Characteristics of Learning

The ability to learn is one of the most outstanding human characteristics. Learning occurs continuously throughout a personís lifetime. To understand how people learn, it is necessary to understand what happens to the individual during the process. In spite of numerous theories and contrasting views, psychologists generally agree there are many characteristics of learning.

Knowledge of the general characteristics of learning help an aviation instructor use them in a learning situation. If learning is a change in behavior as a result of experience, then instruction must include a careful and systematic creation of those experiences that promote learning. This process can be quite complex because, among other things, an individualís background strongly influences the way that person learns. To be effective, the learning situation also should be purposeful, based on experience, multifaceted, and involve an active process.

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