Chapter 4. The Teaching Process

Teaching Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS)

Risk management, ADM, automation management, situational awareness, and Controlled Flight into Terrain

(CFIT) awareness are the skills encompassed by HOTS. To teach the cognitive skills needed in making decisions and judgments effectively, an instructor should incorporate analysis, synthesis, and evaluation into lessons using PBL. HOTS should be taught throughout the curriculum from simple to complex and from concrete to abstract.

Basic approach to teaching HOTS:

  • Set up the problem.
  • Determine learning outcomes for the problem.
  • Solve the problem or task.
  • Reflect on problem-solving process.
  • Consider additional solutions through guided discovery.
  • Reevaluate solution with additional options.
  • Reflect on this solution and why it is the best solution.
  • Consider what “best” means (is it situational).

Types of Problem-Based Instruction

While there are many variations as to how a problem-based lesson might work, it usually involves an incentive or need to solve the problem, a decision on how to find a solution, a possible solution, an explanation for the reasons used to reach that solution, and then reflection on the solution. Three types of problem-based instruction are discussed: scenario based, collaborative problem-solving, and case study.

Scenario-Based Training Method (SBT)

SBT uses a highly structured script of real-world experiences to address aviation training objectives in an operational environment. It is a realistic situation that allows the student to rehearse mentally for a situation and requires practical application of various bits of knowledge. Such training can include initial training, transition training, upgrade training, recurrent training, and special training. Because improper pilot decisions cause a significant percentage of all accidents and the majority of fatal accidents in light single- and twin-engine aircraft, SBT challenges the student or transitioning pilot with a variety of flight scenarios with the goal of reducing accidents. These scenarios require the pilot to manage the resources available in the flight deck, exercise sound judgment, and make timely decisions. Since it has been documented that students learn more effectively when actively involved in the learning process, SBT is also used to train AMTs.

The aviation instructor is the key to successful SBT and the overall learning objective in this method of training delivery is for the student to be more ready to exercise sound judgment and make good decisions. The scenario may not have one right or one wrong answer, which reflects situations faced in the real world. It is important for the instructor to understand in advance which outcomes are positive and/or negative and give the student freedom to make both good and poor decisions without jeopardizing safety. This allows the student to make decisions that fit his or her experience level and result in positive outcomes.

Once the class has mastered the ability to compute weight and balance, Bob decides to give them the following scenario with the objective of teaching them how to reconfigure weight and balance in the real world. A customer wants a tail strobe light installed on his Piper Cherokee 180. How will this installation affect the weight and balance of the aircraft?

Since the student must remove the position light, install a power supply, and also install the tail strobe light, he or she needs to make several decisions that effect the final weight and balance of the aircraft. The real world problem forces the student to analyze, evaluate, and make decisions about the procedures required.

For the flight instructor, a good scenario tells a story that begins with a reason to fly because a pilot’s decisions differ depending on the motivation to fly. For example, Mark’s closest friends bought him a ticket for a playoff game at their alma mater and they paid him to rent an airplane. He is flying the four of them to the “big” football game. Another friend is planning to meet them at the airport and drive everyone to the game and back.

Mark has strong motivation to fly his friends to the game so he keys up College Airport AWOS which reports clear and unrestricted visibility. His flight is a go, yet, 15 miles from College Airport he descends to 1,000 feet to stay below the lowering clouds and encounters rain and lowering visibility to 3 miles. The terrain is flat farmland with no published obstacles. What will he do now?

Remember, a good inflight scenario is more than an hour of flight time; it is also a learning experience. SBT is a powerful tool because the future is unpredictable and there is no way to train a pilot for every combination of events that may happen in the future.

A good scenario:

  • Is not a test;
  • Will not have one, right answer;
  • Does not offer an obvious answer;
  • Should not promote errors; and
  • Should promote situational awareness and opportunities for decision-making.
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