Chapter 2. The Learning Process

Sources of Knowledge

Aviation students obtain knowledge from a variety of sources while training to be pilots or mechanics. The aviation instructor is the student’s primary source of knowledge, but an instructor also recommends other sources of knowledge. These include books, photographs, videos, diagrams and charts, and other instructional materials. These sources are important for the student because they allow information to be archived and easily transferred from one person to another. They also allow the reader to self-pace the acquisition of information and permit the reader to pause, think, formulate, and reformulate his or her understanding.

The instructor also encourages the student to gain experience in the real world of aviation. These experiences enhance the student’s incidental learning: observation of other pilots or mechanics, thinking about what has been learned, formulation of schemas, and ability to make correlations about what has been learned. Interactive computer-based instruction programs, another excellent source of knowledge, often go hand-in-hand with the flight training syllabus, assuring academics are delivered just-in-time to complement lessons.

Summary of Instructor Actions

To help students remember what they have learned, the instructor should:

  • Discuss the difference between short-term memory and long-term memory.
  • Explain the effect of frequent and recent usage of knowledge on remembering and forgetting.
  • Explain the effect of depth of understanding on remembering and forgetting.
  • Encourage student use of mnemonic devices while studying.
  • Explain the benefits of studying at regularly spaced intervals, and the disadvantages of “cramming.”

Chapter Summary

Learning theory has caused instruction to move from basic skills and pure facts to linking new information with prior knowledge, from relying on a single authority to recognizing multiple sources of knowledge, and from novice-like to expert-like problem-solving. While educational theories facilitate learning, no one learning theory is good for all learning situations and all learners. Instruction in aviation should utilize a combination of learning theories.

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