Chapter 4. The Teaching Process

Collaborative Problem-Solving Method

Collaboration (two or more people working together) to solve problems has been used throughout time. In education, the collaborative problem-solving method combines collaboration with problem solving when the instructor provides a problem to a group who then solves it. The instructor provides assistance when needed, but he or she needs to remember that learning to solve the problem or task without assistance is part of the learning process. This method uses collaboration and can be modified for an interactive one-on-one learning situation such as an independent aviation instructor might encounter. The instructor provides the problem to the student, offering only limited assistance as the student solves it, but participating in finding solutions. Once again, open-ended “what if” problems encourage the students an opportunity to develop HOTS.

Case Study Method

A case study is a written or oral account of a real world situation that contains a message that educates the student. An increasingly popular form of teaching, the case study contains a story relative to the student that forces him or her to deal with situations encountered in real life.

The instructor presents the case to the students who then analyze it, come to conclusions, and offer possible solutions. Effective case studies require the student to use critical thinking skills.

An excellent source of real-world case studies for flight instructors can be found at the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) where descriptions of more than 140,000 aviation accidents are located. By removing the NTSB’s determination of probable cause, a flight instructor can use the description as a case study. The following paragraph is an example of one such accident.

“The private pilot was on a visual flight rules (VFR) cross-country flight when he began encountering instrument conditions. The pilot continued into the instrument conditions for about 30 minutes before asking Atlanta Approach Control for directions to the nearest airport for landing. The controller directed the pilot to two different nearby airports, but both were below minimums. The pilot informed the controller that he was low on fuel and needed to land as soon as possible. The controller directed the pilot to the Columbus Metropolitan Airport, Columbus, Georgia. The pilot told the controllers that he would attempt an instrument approach. The pilot attempted four unsuccessful approaches with the controllers talking him through each approach. On the fifth approach, at five miles from the runway, the pilot stated that both engines quit due to fuel exhaustion. The pilot called “mayday” and during the forced landing the airplane collided with trees and the ground separating the right wing, half of the left wing, and coming to rest inverted. The pilot did not report any mechanical deficiencies with the airplane during the attempted approaches. Injuries: one serious, one minor, one uninjured.”

The flight instructor has the student analyze the information and suggest possible reasons for the accident. The instructor then shares the NTSB’s determination of probable cause: “The pilot’s inadequate decision to continue VFR flight into IMC conditions, which resulted in a loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion” which can lead to further discussions of how to avoid this type of accident. Accident data is available at NTSB’s Aviation Accident Database & Synopses at

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