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Five Mile Final | A Flight Instructor's Sandbox

Aviation Instructor's Handbook


To learn is to acquire knowledge or skill, and may involve a change of behavior. Learning Theory is a body of principles advocated by psychologists and educators to explain how people acquire knowledge, skills, and attitudes.

Learning may be explained by a combination of two different approaches: behaviorism and cognitive theories.

The Combined Approach involves teaching via both Behaviorist and Cognitive Theory models.

Learning can be defined as a change in behavior as a result of experience, and is a continuous, lifelong process.

Characteristics of Learning: Learning is Purposeful, a Result of Experience, Mutifaceted, and an Active Process.

Learning Style concerns student preferences and orientation, including information processing, personality, social interaction, and instructional methods.

Several Principles of Learning are applicable to the learning process.

All learning initially comes from the five senses. Most learning is done by sight, but learning is achieved more quickly when more than one sense is involved. Perception is the result of meaning assigned to sensation. Factors that affect perception are important to flight instruction, since perception is the basis of all learning. Factors which affect perception include:

Insight involves grouping perceptions into meaningful wholes. Creating insight is a central responsibility of flight instructors. Insight may be achieved by trial and error, but it is best received via instruction. Insight makes learning more meaningful and permanent. Instructors are expected to organize demonstrations and explanations that create opportunities for insight.

Motivation is the dominant force of student progress, be it positive, negative, tangible, intangible, subtle, or obvious. Like employees, students expect and require regular rewards, be they financial or emotional (positive self-concept, group approval). Positive motivation is essential to true learning.

Levels of learning include four basic levels:

There are three domains of learning, which consider what is to be learned: knowledge, change in attitude, or a combination of knowledge and skill? Each of three primary domains of learning has a taxonomy of educational objectives:

Learning physical skills involves more than muscles — other elements include a desire to learn, patterns to follow, performance of the skill, knowledge of the results, progress that follows a pattern, the duration and organization of the lesson, evaluation vs. critique, and application of skill.

Memory is believed to work in a multi-stage process: sensory, working/short-term, and long-term.

Theories of forgetting include disuse, interference, and repression. These theories suggest that nothing is truly lost, but instead unavailable for recall. Long-term memory can be aided by praise, association, favorable attitudes, learning with all senses, and meaningful repetition.

Transfer of learning suggests that previous experiences can aid current learning, provided that Skill A is valuable to Skill B. This can create either positive or negative transference of learning, in which case a previously acquired skill hinders current learning (the desire to "drive" an airplane on the ground like a car, for example).

Instructors should plan for transfer as a primary objective, be certain that students understanding how their learning can be applied to other situations, maintain high-order learning standards, providing meaningful learning experiences that build confidence and positive transference, and use strong, clear, conceptual instructional materials.

Habit Formation is essential to correct learning, which supports the building-block concept of using prior experience and learning as the basis for new learning and habit patterns. As knowledge and skill increase, there is an expanded base to support future learning.


Flight Instructor Test Questions

The learning process may include some elements such as verbal, conceptual, and problem solving.

Individuals make more progress learning if they have a clear objective. This is one feature of the principle of readiness.

Providing opportunities for a student to practice and then directing this process towards a goal is the basis of the principle of exercise.

Which principle of learning often creates a strong impression? Primacy.

The mental grouping of affiliated perceptions is called insights.

During the flight portion of a practical test, the examiner simulates complete loss of engine power by closing the throttle and announcing "simulated engine failure". Correlation is the level of learning being tested.

The least complex outcome in the psychomotor domain is perception.

The best way to prepare a student to perform a task is to provide a clear, step-by-step example.

The use of some type of association, such as rhymes or mnemonics, is best suited to the short-term memory system.

Information for future use is stored in long-term memory.

Responses that produce a pleasurable return are called praise.

While learning the material being taught, students may be learning other things as well. This additional learning is called incidental.

To ensure proper habits and correct techniques during training, an instructor should use the building block technique of instruction.

A primary consideration in planning for student performance is the length of the practice session.

Robert Wederquist   CP-ASEL - AGI - IGI
Commercial Pilot • Instrument Pilot
Advanced Ground Instructor • Instrument Ground Instructor