To get your CFI or ground instructor certificate you need to pass the Fundamentals of Instructing written test. The questions are taken from this FAA publication. There is a lot of good information in the book as well as some long-debunked ideas. The old test that was published by the FAA has lots of questions with more than one right answer and you are supposed to remember from the reading which one is the “best” answer. After reading the text once, I took a couple of practice exams and scored 7/10 or 8/10 so I could probably pass the test. However, I purchased the Gleim book so that I can be sure of passing on the first try. And I decided to write up some notes from the book. This is the first of three summaries, the glossary, notes on all of the lists that you need to memorize, and a list of questions where the “correct” answer doesn’t make any sense.
There are lots of questions on the exam that require you to remember which items belong to a list of items e.g. Hazardous attitudes, PAVE, IMSAFE. I don’t really care about any of them and can never remember what belongs with which acronym so I write them down and review them before taking the exam. Some of them are relevant though and are worth memorizing. All of them are included in the Lists post.
The text below is copied directly from the handbook. My comments are in brackets. [ … ]. Highlights are for things that I can’t remember or that are supposedly on the test and need to be memorized,.
Chapter I: Human Behavior
Learning is the acquisition of knowledge or understanding of a subject or skill through education, experience, practice, or study. A change of behavior results from learning.
To successfully bring about learning, the instructor must know why people act the way they do, how people learn, and then use this understanding to teach.
Definitions of Human Behavior
[These aren’t definitions as much as ways of thinking about behaviour.]
A complex topic, human behavior is a product both of innate human nature and of individual experience and environment. Human behavior is also defined as the result of attempts to satisfy certain needs.
Another definition of human behavior focuses on the typical life course of humans. This approach emphasizes human development or the successive phases of growth in which human behavior is characterized by a distinct set of physical, physiological, and behavioral features.
[Personality testing is mostly nonsense. You might want to learn it for the test, but ignore it when teaching.]
Human Needs and Motivation
Henry A. Murray, one of the founders of personality psychology who was active in developing a theory of motivation, identified a list of core psychological needs in 1938. He described these needs as being either primary (based on biological needs, such as the need for food) or secondary (generally psychological, such as the need for independence). Murray believed the interplay of these needs produce distinct personality types and are internal influences on behavior.
Abraham Maslow who also studied human needs, motivation, and personality. According to Maslow, human needs go beyond the obvious physical needs of food and shelter to include psychological needs, safety and security, love and belongingness, self esteem, and self actualization to achieve one’s goals.
Human Needs That Must Be Met To Encourage Learning
These are biological needs. They consist of the need for air, food, water, and maintenance of the human body.
Security needs are about keeping oneself from harm.
Maslow states that people seek to overcome feelings of loneliness and alienation. This involves both giving and receiving love, affection, and the sense of belonging.
Humans get esteem in two ways: internally or externally. Internally, a person judges himself or herself worthy by personally defined standards. High self-esteem results in self-confidence, independence, achievement, competence, and knowledge.
Cognitive and Aesthetic
In later years, Maslow added cognitive (need to know and understand) and aesthetic (the emotional need of the artist) needs to the pyramid.
When all of the foregoing needs are satisfied, then and only then are the needs for self-actualization activated. Maslow describes self-actualization as a person’s need to be and do that which the person was “born to do.”
Human Nature and Motivation
Douglas McGregor set out two opposing assumptions about human nature and motivation in 1960.
Theory X assumes that management’s role is to coerce and control employees because people need control and direction.
• People have an inherent dislike for work and will avoid it whenever possible.
• People must be coerced, controlled, directed, or threatened with punishment in order to get them to achieve the organizational objectives.
• People prefer to be directed, do not want responsibility, and have little or no ambition.
• People seek security above all else.
• Work is as natural as play and rest. The average person does not inherently dislike work. Depending on conditions, work may be a source of satisfaction and, if so, it is performed voluntarily. On the other hand, when work is a form of punishment, it is avoided, if possible.
• People exercise self-direction if they are committed to the goals (they are not lazy).
• Commitment to goals relates directly to the rewards associated with their achievement.
• People learn to accept and seek responsibility. Shirking responsibility and lack of ambition are not inherent in human nature, but are usually the consequences of experience.
• Creativity, ingenuity, and imagination are widely distributed among the population. People are capable of using these abilities to solve problems.
• People have potential.
Human Factors That Inhibit Learning
Defense mechanisms can be biological or psychological. The biological defense mechanism is a physiological response that protects or preserves organisms. The ego defense mechanism is an unconscious mental process to protect oneself from anxiety, unpleasant emotions, or to provide a refuge from a situation with which the individual cannot currently cope.
Repression is the defense mechanism whereby a person places uncomfortable thoughts into inaccessible areas of the unconscious mind.
Denial is a refusal to accept external reality because it is too threatening.
Compensation is a process of psychologically counterbalancing perceived weaknesses by emphasizing strength in other areas.
Through projection, an individual places his or her own unacceptable impulses onto someone else.
Rationalization is a subconscious technique for justifying actions that otherwise would be unacceptable.
In reaction formation a person fakes a belief opposite to the true belief because the true belief causes anxiety.
Fantasy occurs when a student engages in daydreams about how things should be rather than doing anything about how things are.
Displacement results in an unconscious shift of emotion, affect, or desire from the original object to a more acceptable, less threatening substitute.
Student Emotional Reactions
Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, often about something that is going to happen, typically something with an uncertain outcome. It results from the fear of anything, real or imagined, which threatens the person who experiences it, and may have a potent effect on actions and the ability to learn from perceptions.
Normal Reactions to Stress
The affected individual thinks rationally, acts rapidly, and is extremely sensitive to all aspects of the surroundings.
Abnormal Reactions to Stress
…response to anxiety or stress may be completely absent or at least inadequate. Their responses may be random or illogical, or they may do more than is called for by the situation.
• Inappropriate reactions, such as extreme over-cooperation, painstaking self-control, inappropriate laughter or singing, and very rapid changes in emotions.
• Marked changes in mood on different lessons, such as excellent morale followed by deep depression.
• Severe anger directed toward the flight instructor, service personnel, and others.
[These are labelled as Normal and Abnormal, but are probably more accurately described as Appropriate and Inappropriate. Or actions that resolve the cause of the stress or actions that exacerbate the stress.]
Flight Instructor Actions Regarding Seriously Abnormal Students
…a flight instructor has the personal responsibility of assuring that such a person does not continue flight training or become certificated as a pilot.
Teaching the Adult Student
[This section is mostly unsubstantiated generalizations. A couple of things are true though.]
• Adults who are motivated to seek out a learning experience do so primarily because they have a use for the knowledge or skill being sought. Learning is a means to an end, not an end in itself.
• Adults have accumulated a foundation of life experiences and knowledge and draw upon this reservoir of experience for learning.
Chapter 2:The Learning Process
What Is Learning?
Learning can be defined in many ways:
• A change in the behavior of the learner as a result of experience. The behavior can be physical and overt, or it can be intellectual or attitudinal.
• The process by which experience brings about a relatively permanent change in behavior.
• The change in behavior that results from experience and practice.
• Gaining knowledge or skills, or developing a behavior, through study, instruction, or experience.
• The process of acquiring knowledge or skill through study, experience, or teaching. It depends on experience and leads to long-term changes in behavior potential. Behavior potential describes the possible behavior of an individual (not actual behavior) in a given situation in order to achieve a goal.
• A relatively permanent change in cognition, resulting from experience and directly influencing behavior.
The Framework for Learning
Research into how people learn gained momentum with the Swiss scientist and psychologist Jean Piaget, who studied the intellectual development of children in the early twentieth century.
Learning theory is a body of principles advocated by psychologists and educators to explain how people acquire skills, knowledge, and attitudes.
Behaviorism is a school of psychology that explains animal and human behavior entirely in terms of observable and measurable responses to stimuli.
Cognitive theory focuses on what is going on inside the mind. It is more concerned with cognition (the process of thinking and learning)—knowing, perceiving, problem-solving, decision-making, awareness, and related intellectual activities—than with stimulus and response. Learning is not just a change in behavior; it is a change in the way a learner thinks, understands, or feels.
For [John] Dewey, the concept of reflective thought carried deep meaning. He saw reflection as a process that moves a learner from one experience into the next with deeper understanding of its relationships with and connections to other experiences and ideas. Thus, reflection leads the learner from the unclear to the clear.
Jean Piaget, who spent 50 years studying how children develop intellectually, became a major figure in the school of cognitive thought. His research led him to conclude there is always tension between assimilation (old ideas meeting new situations) and accommodation (changing the old ideas to meet the new situations). The resolution of this tension results in intellectual growth.
Jerome Bruner became interested in how intellectual development related to the process of learning, His research led him to advocate learning from the known to the unknown, or from the concrete to the abstract, because humans best learn when relating new knowledge to existing knowledge.
In the mid-1900s, a group of educators led by Benjamin Bloom tried to classify the levels of thinking behaviors thought to be important in the processes of learning.… Bloom’s Taxonomy of the Cognitive Domain is a taxonomy (a classification system according to presumed relationships) comprised of six levels of intellectual behavior and progresses from the simplest to the most complex: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.
Information Processing Theory
Information processing theory uses a computer system as a model for human learning. The human brain processes incoming information, stores and retrieves it, and generates responses to the information. This involves a number of cognitive processes: gathering and representing information (encoding), retaining of information, and retrieving the information when needed.
A derivative of cognitive theory, constructivism is a philosophy of learning that can be traced to the eighteenth century. This theory holds that learners do not acquire knowledge and skills passively but actively build or construct them based on their experiences.
…humans construct a unique mental image by combining preexisting information with the information received from sense organs. Learning is the result of the learner matching new information against this preexisting information and integrating it into meaningful connections.
Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS)
The constructivist theory of learning explains and supports the learning of HOTS, which is commonly called aeronautical decision-making (ADM) in aviation. HOTS lie in the last three categories on Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning: analysis, synthesis, and evaluation skills.
HOTS are taught like other cognitive skills, from simple to complex and from concrete to abstract. To teach HOTS effectively involves strategies and methods that include (1) using problem-based learning (PBL) instruction, (2) authentic problems, (3) real world problems, (4) student-centered learning, (5) active learning, (6) cooperative learning, and (7) customized instruction to meet the individual learner’s needs.
It must be remembered that critical thinking skills should be taught in the context of subject matter. Learners progress from simple to complex; therefore, they need some information before they can think about a subject beyond rote learning.
Scenario Based Training (SBT)
At the heart of HOTS [Higher Order Thinking Skills] lies scenario-based training (SBT) which is an example of the PBL [problem-based learning] instructional method and facilitates the enhancement of learning and the development and transference of thinking skills. SBT provides more realistic decision-making opportunities because it presents tasks in an operational environment; it correlates new information with previous knowledge, and introduces new information in a realistic context.
The best use of scenarios draws the learner into formulating possible solutions, evaluating the possible solutions, deciding on a solution, judging the appropriateness of that decision and finally, reflecting on the mental process used in solving the problem. It causes the learner to consider whether the decision led to the best possible outcome and challenges the learner to consider other solutions.
Perception involves more than the reception of stimuli from the five senses; it also involves a person giving meaning to sensations.
Factors That Affect Perception
Both internal and external factors affect an individual’s ability to perceive:
• Physical organism
• Goals and values
• Time and opportunity
• Element of threat
Goals and Values
Every experience and sensation, which is funneled into one’s central nervous system, is colored by the individual’s own beliefs and value structures.
If a student’s experiences tend to support a favorable self-image, the student tends to remain receptive to subsequent experiences. If a student has negative experiences, which tend to contradict self-concept, there is a tendency to reject additional training. [This sounds like nonsense to me. I’d like to see some data to back up this claim.]
Time and Opportunity
…proper sequence and time are necessary.
Element of Threat
…fear adversely affects perception by narrowing the perceptual field. Confronted with threat, students tend to limit their attention to the threatening object or condition.
The mental relating and grouping of associated perceptions is called insight.
It is a major responsibility of the instructor to organize demonstrations and explanations, and to direct practice so that the student has better opportunities to understand the interrelationship of the many kinds of experiences that have been perceived.
Knowledge refers to information that humans are consciously aware of and can articulate.
A student’s first attempt to acquire knowledge about a new topic amounts to memorizing facts about steps in a procedure.
Understanding is the ability to notice similarities and make associations between the facts and procedural steps learned.
Concept learning is based on the assumption that humans tend to group objects, events, ideas, people, etc., that share one or more major attributes that set them apart. It also involves discrimination between types of things or ideas inside or outside of a concept set.
Another type of generalization is a schema (the cognitive framework that helps people organize and interpret information). Schemas can be revised by any new information and are useful because they allow people to take shortcuts in interpreting a vast amount of information.
Thorndike and the Laws of Learning
Laws of learning: the law of readiness, the law of exercise, and the law of effect, the law of primacy, the law of intensity, and the law of recency. [Better referred to as Principles.]
The basic needs of the learner must be satisfied before they are ready or capable of learning.
Teachable moments present opportunities to convey information in a way that is relevant, effective, and memorable to the student. They occur when a learner can clearly see how specific information or skills can be used in the real world.
All learning involves the formation of connections and connections are strengthened or weakened according to the law of effect. Responses to a situation that are followed by satisfaction are strengthened; responses followed by discomfort are weakened, either strengthening or weakening the connection of learning. [Again, sounds like nonsense to me. Is there data to back this claim up? Seems to be in conflict with Intensity.]
Practice strengthens the learning connection; disuse weakens it. Exercise is most meaningful and effective when a skill is learned within the context of a real world application.
Primacy, the state of being first, often creates a strong, almost unshakable impression and underlies the reason an instructor must teach correctly the first time and the student must learn correctly the first time. [I’d like to see some data on this. It sounds fishy to me.]
Real world applications (scenarios) that integrate procedures and tasks the learner is capable of learning make a vivid impression and he or she is least likely to forget the experience.
The principle of recency states that things most recently learned are best remembered.
[Not covered in the book are two more “Laws” that were added later. Wiki]
The principle of freedom states that things freely learned are best learned.
The law of requirement states that “we must have something to obtain or do something.” It can be an ability, skill, instrument or anything that may help us to learn or gain something.
Domains of Learning
The four practical learning levels are rote, understanding, application, and correlation.
Rote: The key verbs which describe or measure this activity are words such as define, identify, and label.
The comprehension or understanding level puts two or more concepts together and uses verbs such as describe, estimate, or explain.
Application: consolidate old and new perceptions into an insight. Develop the skill to apply what has been learned.
The correlation level of learning, which should be the objective of aviation instruction, is that level at which the student becomes able to associate an element which has been learned with other segments or blocks of learning.
The affective domain addresses a learner’s emotions toward the learning experience. It includes feelings, values, enthusiasms, motivations, and attitudes.
Five levels: awareness, response, value, organizing, and integration.
The psychomotor domain is skill based and includes physical movement, coordination, and use of the motor-skill areas.
Summary of Instructor Actions
To help students acquire knowledge, the instructor should:
• Ask students to recite or practice newly acquired knowledge.
• Ask questions that probe student understanding and prompt them to think about what they have learned in different ways.
• Present opportunities for students to apply what they know to solving problems or making decisions.
• Present students with problems and decisions that test the limits of their knowledge.
• Demonstrate the benefits of understanding and being able to apply knowledge.
• Introduce new topics as they support the objectives of the lesson, whenever possible.
Characteristics of Learning
Learning is a change in behavior as a result of experience, so instruction must include a careful and systematic creation of those experiences that promote learning.
Learning Is Purposeful
In the process of learning, the student’s goals are of paramount significance. To be effective, aviation instructors need to find ways to relate new learning to the student’s goals.
Learning Is a Result of Experience
Aviation instructors are faced with the problem of providing learning experiences that are meaningful, varied, and appropriate.
Learning Is Multifaceted
Learning is multifaceted in still another way. While learning the subject at hand, students may be learning other things as well.… This type of learning is sometimes referred to as incidental, but it may have a great impact on the total development of the student.
Learning Is an Active Process
For students to learn, they need to react and respond, perhaps outwardly, perhaps only inwardly, emotionally, or intellectually.
Learning styles are simply different approaches or ways of learning based on the fact that people absorb and process information in different ways. Learning style is an individual’s preference for understanding experiences and changing them into knowledge.
Controversy exists over the scientific value of learning styles as well as approaches to learning, many educational psychologists advocate their use in the learning process. [I tend to side with the people who say that the information in this section is bullshit.]
Right Brain/Left Brain
Right-brain dominance are characterized as being spatially oriented, creative, intuitive, and emotional. Those with left-brain dominance are more verbal, analytical, and objective.
Left brain learners have preferences for how they process information. Based on information processing theory, left brain learners or serialist learners have an analytic approach to learning. Because they gain understanding in linear steps, with each step logically following the previous one, these learners need well-defined, sequential steps where the overall picture is developed slowly, thoroughly, and logically. This is a bottom-up strategy.
Right brain or holistic learners favor the holist strategy and prefer a big picture or global perspective. This is a top-down strategy and learners tend to learn in large jumps, absorbing material almost randomly without seeing connections, until suddenly “it” clicks and they get it. Global learners solve complex problems rapidly once they have grasped the big picture, but they often have difficulty explaining how they did it. This type of learner seeks overall comprehension; analogies help this learner.
Index of Learning Styles (ILS)
Classifies students as having learning preferences in sensing or intuitive, visual or verbal, active or reflective, sequential or global
Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic Learners (VAK)
One of the most popular learning styles is based on the three main sensory receptors: vision, hearing, and touch. These are called visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning styles (VAK).
In a theory proposed by Ricki Linksman, the learning style ideas discussed in the preceding paragraphs have been melded into a concept based on the VAKT (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and tactile) learning styles plus brain hemisphere preference.
Acquiring Skill Knowledge
Skill knowledge is knowledge reflected in motor or manual skills and in cognitive or mental skills, that manifests itself in the doing of something.
Stages of Skill Acquisition
Skill acquisition (or the learning process) has three characteristic stages: cognitive, associative, and automaticity.
The best way to prepare the student to perform a task is to provide a clear, step-by-step example.
As the storage of a skill via practice continues, the student learns to associate individual steps in performance with likely outcomes.
Automatic Response Stage
As procedures become automatic, less attention is required to carry them out, so it is possible to do other things simultaneously, or at least do other things more comfortably.
Knowledge of Results
One way to make students aware of their progress is to repeat a demonstration or example and to show them the standards their performance must ultimately meet.
How To Develop Skills
Making progress toward automating a skill seems to be largely a matter of performing the skill over and over again. In skill learning, the first trials are slow and coordination is lacking. Mistakes are frequent, but each trial provides clues for improvement in subsequent trials.
Learning plateaus are a normal part of the learning process and tend to be temporary, but instructors and students should be prepared for them.
Types of Practice
There are three types of practice, each of which yields particular results in acquiring skills: deliberate, blocked, and random.
During deliberate practice, the student practices specific areas for improvement and receives specific feedback after practice.
Blocked practice is practicing the same drill until the movement becomes automatic. While blocked practice enhances current performance, it does not improve either concept learning or retrieval from long-term memory.
Random practice mixes up the skills to be acquired throughout the practice session. This type of practice leads to better retention because by performing a series of separate skills in a random order, the student starts to recognize the similarities and differences of each skill which makes it more meaningful.
Evaluation Versus Critique
In the initial stages of skill acquisition, practical suggestions are more valuable to the student than a grade. Early evaluation is usually teacher oriented. It provides a check on teaching effectiveness, can be used to predict eventual student learning proficiency, and can help the teacher locate special problem areas.
Overlearning of Knowledge
Overlearning is the continued study of a skill after initial proficiency has been achieved.
Application of Skill
The final and critical question is “Can the student use what has been learned?”
Summary of Instructor Actions
To help students acquire skills, the instructor should:
• Explain that the key to acquiring and improving any skill is continued practice.
• Monitor student practice of skills and provide immediate feedback.
• Avoid conversation and other distractions when students are practicing individual skills.
• Explain that learning plateaus are common and that continued practice leads to continued improvement.
Putting It All Together
Multitasking is the simultaneous execution of two or more tasks. In aviation, multitasking involves two different abilities: attention switching and simultaneous performance.
Continuously switching attention back and forth between two or more tasks is attention switching.
Performing several tasks at once, or simultaneous performance, is the second type of multitasking. This type of multitasking becomes possible when no bottlenecks are present and when one or more of the tasks being performed are skills developed to the point of being automatic.
Learning To Multitask
Before students are asked to perform several tasks at once, instructors should ensure that the student has devoted enough time to study and practice such that the individual tasks can be performed reasonably well in isolation.
Distractions and Interruptions
A distraction is an unexpected event that causes the student’s attention to be momentarily diverted. Students must learn to decide whether or not a distraction warrants further attention or action on their part.
An interruption is an unexpected event for which the student voluntarily suspends performance of one task in order to complete a different one.
[Examples of distractions are: light chop, radio calls to other aircraft, passenger chatting. Examples of interruptions are: radio calls to you, reaching an assigned or intended altitude, fuel truck arriving in the middle of pre-flight.]
Fixation and Inattention
Fixation occurs when a student becomes absorbed in performing one task to the exclusion of other tasks.
Inattention occurs when a student fails to pay attention to a task that is important. Inattention is sometimes a natural by-product of fixation.
How To Identify Fixation or Inattention Problems
One way for instructors to identify problems with fixation and inattention is to try and follow where students look.
Research and practical experience have demonstrated the usefulness of practicing in realistic scenarios—ones that resemble the environment in which knowledge and skills are later used.
A good scenario:
• Has a clear set of objectives.
• Is tailored to the needs of the student.
• Capitalizes on the nuances of the local environment.
The Learning Route to Expertise
Cognitive strategies refer to the knowledge of procedures or knowledge about how to do something in contrast with the knowledge of facts.
…study and identify the strategies that experts use and then teach these strategies to the students.
Problem-solving tactics are specific actions intended to get a particular result, and this type of knowledge represents the most targeted knowledge in the expert’s arsenal.
Awareness of Existence of Unknowns
An important aspect of an expert’s knowledge is an awareness of what he or she does not know.
Summary of Instructor Actions
To help students exercise their knowledge and skills in a concerted fashion, the instructor should:
• Explain the two types of multitasking (Attention Switching and Simultaneous Performance) and give examples of each type.
• Ensure that individual skills are reasonably well-practiced before asking students to perform several tasks at once.
• Teach students how to deal with distractions and interruptions and provide them with opportunities to practice.
• Point out fixation and inattention when it occurs.
• Devise scenarios that allow students to use their knowledge and skill to solve realistic problems and make decisions.
• Explain to the student that continued practice with the goal of improving leads to continued improvement.
Kinds of Error
There are two kinds of error: slip and mistake.
A slip occurs when a person plans to do one thing, but then inadvertently does something else. Slips are errors of action.
A mistake occurs when a person plans to do the wrong thing and is successful. Mistakes are errors of thought.
Learning and Practicing
Checking for Errors
Another line of defense against errors is to raise one’s awareness when operating in conditions under which errors are known to happen (e.g., changes in routine, time pressure), or in conditions under which defenses against errors have been compromised (e.g., fatigue, lack of recent practice).
Given that the occasional error is inevitable, it is a worthwhile exercise to practice recovering from commonly made errors, or those that pose serious consequences.
Learning From Error
When a student makes an error, it is useful to ask the student to consider why the error happened, and what could be done differently to prevent the error from happening again in the future.
Summary of Instructor Actions
To help students learn from errors they make and be prepared for them in the future, an instructor should:
• Explain that pilots and mechanics at all levels of skill and experience make occasional errors.
• Explain that the magnitude and frequency of errors tend to decrease as skill and experience increases.
• Explain the difference between slips and mistakes and provide examples of each.
• Explain ways in which the student can help minimize errors.
• Allow the student to practice recovering from common errors.
• Point out errors when they occur and ask the student to explain why they occurred.
Motivation prompts students to engage in hard work and affects student success. Motivation may be tangible or intangible.
Students seeking intangible rewards are motivated by the desires for personal comfort and security, group approval, and the achievement of a favorable self-image.
Positive feedback encourages students. Practice positive feedback frequently by:
• Praising incremental successes during training.
• Relating daily accomplishments to lesson objectives.
• Commenting favorably on student progress and level ability.
Presenting New Challenges
With each declaration of success, be sure to present students with the next challenge.
Drops in Motivation
Learning plateaus are a common source of frustration, discouragement, and decreased student motivation.
Summary of Instructor Actions
To ensure that students continue to work hard, the instructor should:
• Ask new students about their aviation training goals.
• Reward incremental successes in learning.
• Present new challenges.
• Occasionally remind students about their own stated goals for aviation training.
• Assure students that learning plateaus are normal and that improvement will resume with continued effort.
Although there is no universal agreement of how memory works, a widely accepted model has three components: sensory memory, short-term memory, and long-term memory.
Sensory memory is the part of the memory system that receives initial stimuli from the environment and processes them according to the individual’s preconceived concept of what is important.
The sensory memory processes stimuli from the environment within seconds, discards what is considered extraneous, and processes what is determined by the individual to be relevant. This is a selective process where the sensory register is set to recognize certain stimuli and immediately transmit them to the short-term memory (STM) for action. The process is called precoding.
Short-Term Memory (STM)
Short-term memory is the part of the memory system where information is stored for roughly 30 seconds, after which it may rapidly fade or be consolidated into long-term memory. Several common steps help retention in STM. These include rehearsal or repetition of the information and sorting or categorization into systematic chunks. The sorting process is usually called coding or chunking. A key limitation of STM is that it takes 5–10 seconds to properly code information and if the coding process is interrupted, that information is easily lost since it is stored for only 30 seconds. The goal of the STM is to put the information to immediate use.
STM has three basic operations: iconic memory, acoustic memory, and working memory. Iconic memory is the brief sensory memory of visual images. Acoustic memory is the encoded memory of a brief sound memory or the ability to hold sounds in STM. Of the two, acoustic memory can be held longer than iconic memory. Working memory is an active process to keep information until it is put to use.
Long-Term Memory (LTM)
Long-term memory (LTM) is relatively permanent storage of unlimited information and it is possible for memories in LTM to remain there for a lifetime.
How Usage Affects Memory
The ability to retrieve knowledge or skills from memory is primarily related to two things: (1) how often that knowledge has been used in the past; and (2) how recently the knowledge has been used.
Forgetting, which refers to loss of a memory, typically involves a failure in memory retrieval. The failure may be due to the decay or overwriting of information which has been temporarily stored in STM, but generally forgetting refers to loss of information from LTM.
Retrieval failure is simply the inability to retrieve information, that tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon when a person knows the meaning of a word, or the answer to a question, but cannot retrieve it. It is also caused by the fact that sometimes people simply do not encode information well, and the information never makes it to LTM or is lost before it can attach itself to the LTM. This is sometimes referred to as failure to store.
The theory of fading or decay suggests that a person forgets information that is not used for an extended period of time, that it fades away or decays. It had been suggested that humans are physiologically preprogrammed to eventually erase data that no longer appears pertinent.
Interference theory suggests that people forget something because a certain experience has overshadowed it, or that the learning of similar things has intervened.
Repression or Suppression
Freudian psychology advances the view that some forgetting is caused by repression or suppression. In repression or suppression, a memory is pushed out of reach because the individual does not want to remember the feelings associated with it. Repression is an unconscious form of forgetting while suppression is a conscious form. [This theory has no scientific basis.]
Retention of Learning
Meaningful learning goes deep because it involves principles and concepts anchored in the student’s own experiences.
Praise Stimulates Remembering
Responses that give a pleasurable return tend to be repeated. Absence of praise or recognition tends to discourage, and any form of negativism in the acceptance of a response tends to make its recall less likely. [This sounds like nonsense to me. I’d like to see some evidence.]
Recall Is Promoted by Association
As discussed earlier, each bit of information or action, which is associated with something to be learned, tends to facilitate its later recall by the student. Unique or disassociated facts tend to be forgotten unless they are of special interest or application.
Favorable Attitudes Aid Retention
People learn and remember only what they wish to know. Without motivation there is little chance for recall. The most effective motivation is based on positive or rewarding objectives.
Learning With All Senses Is Most Effective
Although people generally receive what is learned through the eyes and ears, other senses also contribute to most perceptions. When several senses respond together, a fuller understanding and greater chance of recall is achieved.
Meaningful Repetition Aids Recall
Each repetition gives the student an opportunity to gain a clearer and more accurate perception of the subject to be learned, but mere repetition does not guarantee retention. Practice provides an opportunity for learning, but does not cause it. Further, some research indicates that three or four repetitions provide the maximum effect, after which the rate of learning and probability of retention fall off rapidly.
A mnemonic uses a pattern of letters, ideas, visual images, or associations to assist in remembering information.
Transfer of Learning
Transfer of learning is broadly defined as the ability to apply knowledge or procedures learned in one context to new contexts. Learning occurs more quickly and the learner develops a deeper understanding of the task if he or she brings some knowledge or skills from previous learning. A positive transfer of learning occurs when the learner practices under a variety of conditions, underscoring again the value of SBT.
• Plan for transfer as a primary objective. As in all areas of teaching, the chance for success is increased if the instructor deliberately plans to achieve it.
• Ensure that the students understand that what is learned can be applied to other situations. Prepare them to seek other applications.
• Maintain high-order learning standards. Overlearning may be appropriate. The more thoroughly the students understand the material, the more likely they are to see its relationship to new situations. Avoid unnecessary rote learning, since it does not foster transfer.
• Provide meaningful learning experiences that build student confidence in their ability to transfer learning. This suggests activities that challenge them to exercise their imagination and ingenuity in applying their knowledge and skills.
• Use instructional material that helps form valid concepts and generalizations. Use materials that make relationships clear.
Due to the high level of knowledge and skill required in aviation for both pilots and maintenance technicians, training has traditionally followed a building block concept.
How Understanding Affects Memory
The ability to remember is greatly affected by the level of understanding of what has been learned.
Remembering During Training
The first threat to newly acquired knowledge is a lack of frequent usage in the past.
A second threat to newly acquired knowledge is a lack of understanding that might serve to assist the student in recalling it.
Summary of Instructor Actions
To help students remember what they have learned, the instructor should:
• Discuss the difference between short-term memory and long-term memory.
• Explain the effect of frequent and recent usage of knowledge on remembering and forgetting.
• Explain the effect of depth of understanding on remembering and forgetting.
• Encourage student use of mnemonic devices while studying.
• Explain the benefits of studying at regularly spaced intervals, and the disadvantages of “cramming.”
Chapter 2 Summary
Learning theory has caused instruction to move from basic skills and pure facts to linking new information with prior knowledge, from relying on a single authority to recognizing multiple sources of knowledge, and from novice-like to expert-like problem-solving. While educational theories facilitate learning, no one learning theory is good for all learning situations and all learners. Instruction in aviation should utilize a combination of learning theories.
Chapter 3:Effective Communication
The elements of effective communication, the barriers to communication, and the development of communication skills are discussed in this chapter.
Basic Elements of Communication
Communication takes place when one person transmits ideas or feelings to another person or group of people. The effectiveness of the communication is measured by the similarity between the idea transmitted and the idea received. The process of communication is composed of three elements:
• Source (sender, speaker, writer, encoder, transmitter, or instructor)
• Symbols used in composing and transmitting the message (words or signs (model prop))
• Receiver (listener, reader, decoder, or student)
Their ability to select and use language is essential for transmitting symbols that are meaningful to listeners and readers.
Communicators consciously or unconsciously reveal attitudes toward themselves as a communicator, toward the ideas being communicated, and toward the receivers.
Communicators are more likely to be successful when they speak or write from accurate, up-to-date, and stimulating material.
At its basic level, communication is achieved through symbols, which are simple oral and visual codes.
Communication through symbols is achieved by their interpretation through different perceptions, sometimes referred to as channels. While many theories have been proposed, one popular theory indicates that the symbols are perceived through one of three sensory channels: either visual, auditory, or kinethestic.
Feedback not only informs the students of their performance, but can also serve as a valuable source of motivation.
The receiver is the listener, reader, decoder, or student—the individual or individuals to whom the message is directed.… When the receiver reacts with understanding and changes his or her behavior according to the intent of the source, effective communication has taken place.
In order to understand the process of communication, three characteristics of receivers must be understood: abilities, attitudes, and experiences.
An instructor needs to determine the abilities of the student in order to properly communicate.
The attitudes students exhibit may indicate resistance, willingness, or passive neutrality. To gain and hold student attention, attitudes should be molded into forms that promote reception of information.
Student experience, background, and educational level determine the approach an instructor takes.
Barriers to Effective Communication
Four barriers to effective communication: lack of common experience, confusion between the symbol and the symbolized object, overuse of abstractions, and interference.
Lack of Common Experience
Lack of common experience between the communicator (instructor) and the receiver (student) is probably the greatest single barrier to effective communication.… In order for communication to be effective, the students’ understanding of the meaning of the words needs to be the same as the instructor’s understanding.
Confusion Between the Symbol and the Symbolized Object
Confusion between the symbol and the symbolized object results when a word is confused with what it is meant to represent.
Overuse of Abstractions
Abstractions are words that are general rather than specific.
Some barriers to effective communication can be controlled by the instructor. Interference, or the prevention of a process or activity from being carried out properly, is composed of factors outside the control of the instructor These factors include physiological, environmental, and psychological interference. To communicate effectively, the instructor should consider the effects of these factors.
Developing Communication Skills
Role playing is a method of learning in which students perform a particular role. In role playing, the learner is provided with a general description of a situation and then applies a new skill or knowledge to perform the role.
Current Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) training emphasis has moved from a maneuvers-based training standard to what is called scenario-based training (SBT). SBT is a highly effective approach that allows students to learn, then apply their knowledge as they participate in realistic scenarios. This method of instruction and learning allows students to move from theory to practical application of skills during their training. Instructor applicants, flight or maintenance, need to learn to think in terms of SBT while they are students.
Instruction has taken place when the instructor has explained a particular procedure and subsequently determined that the desired student response has occurred.
Instructors must know something about their students in order to communicate effectively.
Listening is more than hearing. Most instructors are familiar with the concept that listening is “hearing with comprehension.”
Listening for main ideas is another listening technique.
The instructor must ensure that the student is aware of the danger of daydreaming.
Good questioning can determine how well the student understands what is being taught. It also shows the student that the instructor is paying attention and that the instructor is interested in the student’s response. An instructor should ask focused, open-ended questions and avoid closed-ended questions.
Open-ended questions are designed to encourage full, meaningful answers using the student’s own knowledge and perceptions while closed-ended questions encourage a short or single-word answer.
Effective questions and, therefore, effective communications center on only one idea. A single question should be limited to who, what, when, where, why, or how and not a combination of these.
Two ways of confirming that the student and instructor understand things in the same way are the use of paraphrasing and perception checking.
Chapter 3 Summary
An awareness of the basic elements of the communicative process (source, symbols, and receiver) indicates the beginning of the understanding required for the successful communicator. Recognizing the various barriers to communication further enhances the flow of ideas between an instructor and the student. The instructor must develop communications skills in order to convey desired information to the students and must recognize that communication is a two-way process. In the end, the true test of whether successful communication has taken place is to determine if the desired results have been achieved.