Chapter 4. The Teaching Process

Course of Training

In education, a course of training is a complete series of studies leading to attainment of a specific goal. The goal might be a certificate of completion, graduation, or an academic degree. For example, a student pilot may enroll in a private pilot certificate course, and upon completion of all course requirements, be awarded a graduation certificate. A course of training also may be limited to something like the additional training required for operating high-performance airplanes.

Other terms closely associated with a course of training include curriculum, syllabus, and training course outline. In many cases, these terms are used interchangeably, but there are important differences.

A curriculum is a set of courses in an area of specialization offered by an educational institution. A curriculum for a pilot school usually includes courses for the various pilot certificates and ratings, while the curriculum for an aviation maintenance technician (AMT) addresses the subject areas described in Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 147. A syllabus is a summary or outline of a course of study that generally contains a description of each lesson, including objectives and completion standards. In aviation, the term “training syllabus” is commonly used and in this context it is a step-by-step, building block progression of learning with provisions for regular review and assessments at prescribed stages of learning. [Figure 4-3] And, finally, a training course outline within a curriculum is the content of a particular course. It normally includes statements of objectives, descriptions of teaching aids, definitions of assessment criteria, and indications of desired outcome.

Preparation of a Lesson

A determination of objectives and standards is necessary before any important instruction can be presented. Although some schools and independent instructors may develop their own syllabus, in practice, many instructors use a commercially developed syllabus that already has been selected by a school for use in their aviation training program. For the aviation instructor, the objectives listed in the syllabus are a beginning point for instruction.

Training Objectives and Standards

Aviation training involves two types of objectives: performance based and decision based. Performance-based objectives are essential in defining exactly what needs to be done and how it is done during each lesson. As the student progresses through higher levels of performance and understanding, the instructor should shift the training focus to decision-based training objectives. Decision-based training objectives allow for a more dynamic training environment and are ideally suited to scenario type training. The instructor uses decision-based training objectives to teach aviation students critical thinking skills, such as risk management and aeronautical decision-making (ADM).

The desired level of learning should also be incorporated into the objectives, and these level of learning objectives may apply to one or more of the three domains of learning—cognitive (knowledge), affective (attitudes, beliefs, and values), and psychomotor (physical skills). Normally, aviation training aspires to a level of learning at the application level or higher.

Standards are closely tied to objectives since they include a description of the desired knowledge, behavior, or skill stated in specific terms, along with conditions and criteria. When a student is able to perform according to well-defined standards, evidence of learning is apparent. Comprehensive examples of the desired learning outcomes, or behaviors, should be included in the standards. As indicated in chapter 2, standards for the level of learning in the cognitive and psychomotor domains are easily established. However, writing standards to evaluate a student’s level of learning or overt behavior in the affective domain (attitudes, beliefs, and values) is more difficult.

The overall objective of an aviation training course is usually well established, and the general standards are included in various rules and related publications. For example, eligibility, knowledge, proficiency, and experience requirements for pilots and AMT students are stipulated in the regulations, and the standards are published in the applicable PTS or oral and practical tests (O&Ps). It should be noted that PTS and O&P standards are limited to the most critical job tasks. Certification tests do not represent an entire training syllabus.

A broad, overall objective of any pilot training course is to qualify the student to be a competent, efficient, safe pilot for the operation of specific aircraft types under stated conditions. The established criteria or standards to determine whether the training has been adequate are the passing of knowledge and practical tests required by 14 CFR for the issuance of pilot certificates. Similar objectives and standards are established for AMT students. Professional instructors should not limit their objectives to meeting only the published requirements for pilot or AMT certification.

Instructional objectives should also extend beyond those listed in official publications. Successful instructors teach their students not only how, but also why and when. By incorporating ADM and risk management into each lesson, the aviation instructor helps the student learn, develop, and reinforce the decision-making process which ultimately leads to sound judgment and good decision-making skills.

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