Chapter 4. The Teaching Process


As with any training method that involves discussion, students are encouraged to listen to and learn from their instructor and/or each other. Also as mentioned earlier, discussion involves critical thinking skill. Open-ended questions of the type used in guided discussion lend themselves readily to concepts of risk management and ADM. The constant use of “What If?” discussions provide the student with increased exposure to proper decision-making.

From the description of guided discussion, it is obvious this method works best in a group situation, but it can be modified for an interactive one-on-one learning situation. [Figure 4-11] Planning the guided discussion as well as learning how to ask the type of questions used in guided discussions are assets for any aviation instructor.

Problem-Based Learning

In 1966, the McMaster University School of Medicine in Canada pioneered a new approach to teaching and curriculum design called problem-based learning (PBL). In the intervening years, PBL has helped shift the focus of learning from an instructor-centered approach to a student-centered approach. (See Appendix F.) There are many definitions for PBL, but for the purposes of this handbook, it is defined as the type of learning environment in which lessons are structured in such a way as to confront students with problems encountered in real life that force them to reach real world solutions.

PBL starts with a carefully constructed problem to which there is no single solution. The benefit of PBL lies in helping the learner gain a deeper understanding of the information and in the learner improving his or her ability to recall the information. This results when the material is presented as an authentic problem in a situated environment that allows the learner to “make meaning” of the information based on his or her past experience and personal interpretation. This type of problem encourages the development of HOTS, which include cognitive processes such as problem solving and decision-making, as well as the cognitive skills of analysis, synthesis and evaluation.

Developing good problems that motivate, focus, and initiate student learning are an important component of PBL. Effective problems:

  • Relate to the real world so students want to solve them.
  • Require students to make decisions.
  • Are open ended and not limited to one correct answer.
  • Are connected to previously learned knowledge as well as new knowledge.
  • Reflect lesson objective(s).
  • Challenge students to think critically.
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