Chapter 7. Instructor Responsibilities and Professionalism

Minimizing Student Frustrations

Minimizing student frustrations in the classroom, shop, or during flight training is an instructor’s responsibility. By following basic rules, instructors can reduce student frustrations and create a learning environment that encourages rather than discourages learning.

For example, lesson plans used as part of an organized curriculum help the student pilot measure training progress. Since most pilots don’t want to be students, the ability to measure their progress or “see an end in sight” reduces frustration and increases pilot motivation. [Figure 7-4]

Motivate students—more can be gained from wanting to learn than from being forced to learn. Too often, students do not realize how a particular lesson or course can help them reach an important goal. When students can see the benefits and purpose of the lesson or course, their enjoyment and their efforts increase.

Keep students informed—students feel insecure when they do not know what is expected of them or what is going to happen to them. Instructors can minimize feelings of insecurity by telling students what is expected of them and what they can expect in return. Instructors keep students informed in various ways, including giving them an overview of the course, keeping them posted on their progress, and giving them adequate notice of examinations, assignments, or other requirements.

Approach students as individuals—when instructors limit their thinking to the whole group without considering the individuals who make up that group, their efforts are directed at an average personality that really fits no one. Each group has its own personality that stems from the characteristics and interactions of its members. However, each individual within the group has a unique personality to constantly be considered.

Give credit when due—when students do something extremely well, they normally expect their abilities and efforts to be noticed. Otherwise, they may become frustrated. Praise or credit from the instructor is usually ample reward and provides an incentive to do even better. Praise pays dividends in student effort and achievement when deserved, but when given too freely, it becomes valueless.

Criticize constructively—although it is important to give praise and credit when deserved, it is equally important to identify mistakes and failures. It does not help to tell students they have made errors and not provide explanations. If a student has made an earnest effort but is told that the work is unsatisfactory, with no other explanation, frustration occurs. Errors cannot be corrected if they are not identified, and if they are not identified, they will probably be perpetuated through faulty practice. On the other hand, if the student is briefed on the errors and is told how to correct them, progress can be made.

Be consistent—students want to please their instructor. This is the same desire that influences much of the behavior of subordinates toward their superiors in industry and business. Naturally, students have a keen interest in knowing what is required to please the instructor. If the same thing is acceptable one day and unacceptable the next, the student becomes confused. The instructor’s philosophy and actions must be consistent.

Admit errors—no one, including students, expects an instructor to be perfect. The instructor can win the respect of students by honestly acknowledging mistakes. If the instructor tries to cover up or bluff, students are quick to sense it. Such behavior tends to destroy student confidence in the instructor. If in doubt about some point, the instructor should admit it.

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