|Chapter 2. The Learning Process
Where Does the Motivation To Learn Come From?
Motivation to learn can come from many sources. Some students have a fundamental interest in aviation and experience sheer fascination with aircraft or with the experience of flight. Other students may decide that aviation provides an opportunity to develop a wide variety of technical, physical, communication, and problem-solving abilities. Some see aviation as a way to boost their self-image or ego. Other students are motivated by tradition and wish to follow in the footsteps of a relative or close friend. Some students are motivated to pursue aviation training because it offers a promising career. To others, aviation offers prestige or acceptance within social groups. Some may think that aviation offers fun and excitement or simply a more convenient form of transportation. All of these sources of motivation have one thing in common: they all offer some type of reward in exchange for performing the hard work.
Teaching the adult learner was discussed in chapter 1, but aviation instructors should keep in mind that adult learners who are motivated to seek out a learning experience do so primarily because they have a use for the knowledge or skill being sought. Learning is a means to an end, not an end in itself. Based on this, it is important instructors determine why a student enrolled in the course. Based on preference and/or class size, an instructor can conduct a brief personal interview with the student or have the student complete a student information form. [Figure 2-23] Asking questions such as “Why are you taking this course?” or “How do you plan to use the information you learn in this course?” may be all that is necessary.
A short questionnaire can be helpful in gathering additional student background information. For example, it is helpful to know a student’s familiarity with the subject matter. Questions such as “Have you ever taken a course in aircraft maintenance?” or “Have you ever flown a small airplane?” or “Have you had any on-the-job training in avionics?” should garner the type of information needed.
A short questionnaire also offers an instructor the chance to discover how the student learns best (small groups, independent study, etc.). Another possible way to gather information about a student is to have him or her write a brief autobiography which includes any experience with the subjects being taught. However an instructor gathers information about students, the information helps the instructor allow for not only personal learning goals for the course, but also the goals and motivations of the students, their background in aviation training, as well as their learning preferences. An instructor armed with this information can make the learning experience beneficial to all involved.
Motivation is generally not something that can be transferred from one person to another. Instructors must become skillful at recognizing problems with motivation and at encouraging students to continue to do their best.
Positive feedback encourages students. Practice positive feedback frequently by:
For example, as the student progresses through training, remark on the milestones. When a student first performs a task alone, congratulate him or her on having learned it.
When that same skill reaches an intermediate level, point out that the student’s performance is almost consistent with the requirements of the PTS. When performance is equal to the PTS requirements, comment favorably on the skill acquisition. When student performance exceeds PTS requirements, point out what a benefit this will be when the student must perform under pressure during a practical test or on the job.
Presenting New Challenges
With each declaration of success, be sure to present students with the next challenge. For example, when a student begins to perform a skill consistently to PTS requirements, challenge him or her to continue to improve it so the skill can be performed under pressure or when distracted. Instructors can also present new challenges by presenting the student with new problems or situations.
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