Five Mile Final | A Flight Instructor's Sandbox

Aviation Instructor's Handbook

Instructional outcomes are not consistent among a wide variety of students. Instructors must appraise student performance, and informal critique should be part of every lesson. Critiques should close out one lesson and prepare the student for the next.

No skill is more important to instructors than the ability to analyze, appraise, and judge student performance. Critiques should come immediately after student performance, when events are easier to recall.

A critique is not a step in the grading process, but instead the learning process. A critique also is not necessarily negative, but should be an honest assessment with varied content.

A critique should provide students with something to build upon. It also presents an opportunity for re-teaching.

Characteristics of critique include that they should be objective, flexible, acceptable, comprehensive, constructive, organized, thoughtful, and specific.

Methods of critique include instructor-student, student-led, small group, individual student, self-critique, and written critique.

Ground rules covering critique include that they do not go over time, avoid covering too much, allow time for summary, avoid dogma and controversy, do not create the need to defend criticism, and that written and oral critique do not contradict each other.


The three common types of evaluation are oral quizzes, written tests, and performance tests.

Oral quizzes have a number of desirable results, including:

Effective questions usually have one correct answer, apply to the subject, are adapted to the stage of training, center on only one idea, and present a challenge to students.

Types of questions to avoid include:

Questions from students must be clearly understood before an answer is attempted. Instructors should confirm that students are satisfied with answers. Overly advanced answers should be avoided. Resources should be consulted for any question that cannot be answered.

Quizzing students ("yes" or "no") should be avoided; students should be prompted to deliver specific, factual answers.

Written tests are only as good as the knowledge and proficiency of the test's author(s). A test is a set of questions, problems, or exercises that establish knowledge or skill. A test item measures a single objective and calls for a single response. There are several characteristics of a good test:

Norm-referenced testing measures a student's performance against other students. Criterion-reference testing evaulates students against a standard or criterion. FAA tests are criterion-referenced in order to compare student performance against a high standard of proficiency or safety.

Steps in test development include:

Practical Test Standards (PTS) deliniate FAA standards for conducting tests. The PTS includes both Areas of Operation and Tasks.

Flight Instructor Test Questions

Proper oral quizzing by the instructor during a lesson identifies points which need more emphasis.

Before students willingly accept their instructor's critique, they must first accept the instructor.

To be effective in oral quizzing during the conduct of a lesson, a question should be of suitable difficulty for that stage of training.

A written test has validity when it measures what it is supposed to measure, not when it yields consistent results (reliability).

A written test is said to be comprehensive when it samples liberally whatever is being measured.

Supply-type test items cannot be graded with uniformity.

A characteristic of supply-type test items is that the same test graded by different instructors would probably be given different scores.

Effective multiple-choice test items should keep all alternatives of approximately equal length.

Which is one of the major difficulties encountered in the construction of multiple-choice test items? Inventing distractors which will be attractive to students lacking knowledge or understanding.

In a written test, the "matching" selection-type items reduces the probability of guessing correct responses.

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