Chapter 2. The Learning Process

Discussion of First Flight and Check Ride

Between Beverly’s first day of training and the day before her practical test, she has undergone some remarkable changes:

  • She has developed a collection of memorized facts into an in-depth understanding of how to fly and learned to apply this knowledge to problem-solving and decision-making.
  • Skills once performed awkwardly and deliberately are now performed smoothly and efficiently.
  • She comfortably performs several tasks at once, deals with distractions and interruptions, and maintains her focus in demanding situations. Knowledge and skills are now orchestrated.
  • She still makes errors, but they are less frequent, smaller in magnitude, and she quickly identifies and corrects them.
  • Her motivation and enthusiasm remain as high as they were on the first day of training.
  • She displays proficiency in all areas now: those at which she naturally excels as well as those she struggled to master in the past.
  • She deals with psychological obstacles, such as frustration, that initially got in the way of her learning.
  • She recognizes the importance of regular study and practice.

This scenario illustrates the goal of an aviation instructor: to teach each student in such a way that he or she will become a competent pilot or aviation maintenance technician (AMT). In order to take a pilot or AMT from memorized facts to higher levels of knowledge and skill that include the ability to exercise judgment and solve problems, an instructor needs to know how people learn. Designed as a basic guide in applied educational psychology, this chapter addresses how people learn.

What Is Learning?

Learning can be defined in many ways:

  • A change in the behavior of the learner as a result of experience. The behavior can be physical and overt, or it can be intellectual or attitudinal.
  • The process by which experience brings about a relatively permanent change in behavior.
  • The change in behavior that results from experience and practice.
  • Gaining knowledge or skills, or developing a behavior, through study, instruction, or experience.
  • The process of acquiring knowledge or skill through study, experience, or teaching. It depends on experience and leads to long-term changes in behavior potential. Behavior potential describes the possible behavior of an individual (not actual behavior) in a given situation in order to achieve a goal.
  • A relatively permanent change in cognition, resulting from experience and directly influencing behavior.

The effective instructor understands the subject being taught, the student, the learning process, and the interrelationships that exist. An effective instructor also realizes learning is a complex procedure and assists each student in reaching the learning outcomes while helping the student build self-esteem and confidence. [Figure 2-1]

The Framework for Learning

Research into how people learn gained momentum with the Swiss scientist and psychologist Jean Piaget, who studied the intellectual development of children in the early twentieth century. [Figure 2-2] His studies influenced others to research not only how people learn, but also the best ways to teach them, leading eventually to the establishment of the field of educational psychology.

Learning Theory

Learning theory is a body of principles advocated by psychologists and educators to explain how people acquire skills, knowledge, and attitudes. Various branches of learning theory are used in formal training programs to improve and accelerate the learning process. Key concepts such as desired learning outcomes, objectives of the training, and depth of training also apply. When properly integrated, learning principles can be useful to aviation instructors and developers of instructional programs for both pilots and AMTs.

Many psychologists and educators have attempted to explain how people learn. While variations abound, modern learning theories grew out of two concepts of how people learn: behaviorism and cognitive theory.

 ©AvStop Online Magazine                                                                                                                                                      Contact Us              Return To Books

AvStop Aviation News and Resource Online Magazine

Grab this Headline Animator