Chapter 4. The Teaching Process


A successful instructor needs to be familiar with as many teaching methods as possible. Although lecture and demonstration-performance may be the methods used most often, being aware of other methods and teaching tools such as guided discussion, cooperative learning, and computer-assisted learning better prepares an instructor for a wide variety of teaching situations.

Obviously, the aviation instructor is the key to effective teaching. An experienced instructorís knowledge and skill regarding methods of instruction may be compared to a maintenance technicianís toolbox. The instructorís tools are teaching methods. Just as the technician uses some tools more than others, the instructor uses some methods more often than others. As is the case with the technician, there are times when a less used tool is the exact tool needed for a particular situation. The instructorís success is determined to a large degree by the ability to organize material and to select and utilize a teaching method appropriate to a particular lesson.

Application of the Lesson

Application is student use of the instructorís presented material. If it is a classroom presentation, the student may be asked to explain the new material. If it is a new flight maneuver, the student may be asked to perform the maneuver that has just been demonstrated. In most instructional situations, the instructorís explanation and demonstration activities are alternated with student performance efforts. Usually the instructor has to interrupt the studentís efforts for corrections and further demonstrations. This is necessary because it is very important that each student perform the maneuver or operation the right way the first few times to establish a good habit. Faulty habits are difficult to correct and must be addressed as soon as possible. Flight instructors in particular must be aware of this problem since students often do a lot of their practice without an instructor. Only after reasonable competence has been demonstrated should the student be allowed to practice certain maneuvers on solo flights. Periodic review and assessment by the instructor is necessary to ensure that the student has not acquired any bad habits.

As the student becomes proficient with the fundamentals of flight and aircraft maneuvers or maintenance procedures, the instructor should increasingly emphasize ADM as a means of applying what has been previously learned. For example, the flight student may be asked to plan for the arrival at a specific nontowered airport. The planning should take into consideration the wind conditions, arrival paths, communication procedures, available runways, recommended traffic patterns, and courses of action in the event the unexpected occurs. Upon arrival at the airport the student makes decisions (with guidance and feedback as necessary) to safely enter and fly the traffic pattern.

Assessment of the Lesson

Before the end of the instructional period, the instructor should review what has been covered during the lesson and require the students to demonstrate how well the lesson objectives have been met. Review and assessment are integral parts of each classroom, and/or flight lesson. The instructorís assessment may be informal and recorded only for the instructorís own use in planning the next lesson for the students, or it may be formal. More often, the assessment is formal and results recorded to certify the studentís progress in the course. Assessment is explored in more detail in chapter 5.

Instructional Aids and Training Technologies

Instructional aids are devices that assist an instructor in the teaching-learning process. Instructional aids are not self-supporting; they support, supplement, or reinforce what is being taught. In contrast, training media are generally described as any physical means that communicates an instructional message to students. For example, the instructorís voice, printed text, video cassettes, interactive computer programs, part-task trainers, flight training devices, or flight simulators, and numerous other types of training devices are considered training media.

In school settings, instructors may become involved in the selection and preparation of instructional aids, but they often are already in place. For the independent instructor setting, the instructor may need to select and prepare instructional aids. Whatever the setting, instructors need to learn how to effectively use them.

Instructional Aid Theory

For many years, educators have theorized about how the human brain and the memory function during the communicative process. There is general agreement about certain factors that seem pertinent to understanding the use of instructional aids.

  • During the communicative process, the sensory register of the memory acts as a filter. As stimuli are received, the individualís sensory register works to sort out the important bits of information from the routine or less significant bits. Within seconds, what is perceived as the most important information is passed to the working or short-term memory where it is processed for possible storage in the long-term memory. This complex process is enhanced by the use of appropriate instructional aids that highlight and emphasize the main points or concepts.
  • The working or short-term memory functions are limited by both time and capacity. Therefore, it is essential that the information be arranged in useful bits or chunks for effective coding, rehearsal, or recording. The effectiveness of the instructional aid is critical for this process. Carefully selected charts, graphs, pictures, or other well-organized visual aids are examples of items that help the student understand, as well as retain, essential information.
  • Ideally, instructional aids should be designed to cover the key points and concepts. In addition, the coverage should be straightforward and factual so it is easy for students to remember and recall. Generally, instructional aids that are relatively simple are best suited for this purpose.
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