The basic needs of the learner must be satisfied before he or
she is ready or capable of learning (see Chapter 1, Human
Behavior). The instructor can do little to motivate the learner
if these needs have not been met. This means the learner must
want to learn the task being presented and must possess the
requisite knowledge and skill. In SBT, the instructor attempts
to make the task as meaningful as possible and to keep it
within the learner’s capabilities.
Students best acquire new knowledge when they see a clear
reason for doing so, often show a strong interest in learning
what they believe they need to know next, and tend to set
aside things for which they see no immediate need. For
example, beginning flight students commonly ignore the
flight instructor’s suggestion to use the trim control. These
students believe the control yoke is an adequate way to
manipulate the aircraft’s control surfaces. Later in training,
when they must divert their attention away from the controls
to other tasks, they realize the importance of trim.
Instructors can take two steps to keep their students in a state
of readiness to learn. First, instructors should communicate a
clear set of learning objectives to the student and relate each new topic to those objectives. Second, instructors should
introduce topics in a logical order and leave students with a
need to learn the next topic. The development and use of a
well-designed curriculum accomplish this goal.
Readiness to learn also involves what is called the “teachable
moment” or a moment of educational opportunity when a
person is particularly responsive to being taught something.
One of the most important skills to develop as an instructor
is the ability to recognize and capitalize on “teachable
moments” in aviation training. An instructor can find or
create teachable moments in flight training activity: pattern
work, air work in the local practice area, cross-country, flight
review, or instrument proficiency check.
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.
For example, while on final approach several deer cross the
runway. Bill capitalizes on this teachable moment to stress the
importance of always being ready to perform a go-around.
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. Thus, learning is strengthened
when accompanied by a pleasant or satisfying feeling, and
weakened when associated with an unpleasant feeling.
Experiences that produce feelings of defeat, frustration,
anger, confusion, or futility are unpleasant for the student.
For example, if Bill teaches landings to Beverly during the
first flight, she is likely to feel inferior and be frustrated,
which weakens the learning connection.
The learner needs to have success in order to have more
success in the future. It is important for the instructor to create
situations designed to promote success. Positive training
experiences are more apt to lead to success and motivate the
learner, while negative training experiences might stimulate
forgetfulness or avoidance. When presented correctly, SBT
provides immediate positive experiences in terms of real
To keep learning pleasant and to maintain student motivation,
an instructor should make positive comments about the
student’s progress before discussing areas that need
improving. Flight instructors have an opportunity to do this
during the flight debriefing. For example, Bill praises Beverly on her aircraft control during all phases of flight, but offers
constructive comments on how to better maintain the runway
centerline during landings.
Connections are strengthened with practice and weakened
when practice is discontinued, which reflects the adage “use
it or lose it.” The learner needs to practice what has been
learned in order to understand and remember the learning.
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. For example, a maintenance student
learns a faulty riveting technique. Now the instructor must
correct the bad habit and reteach the correct technique.
Relearning is more difficult than initial learning.
Also, if the task is learned in isolation, it is not initially
applied to the overall performance, or if it must be relearned,
the process can be confusing and time consuming. The
first experience should be positive, functional, and lay the
foundation for all that is to follow.
Immediate, exciting, or dramatic learning connected to
a real situation teaches a learner more than a routine or
boring experience. 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. For example, using realistic
scenarios has been shown to be effective in the development
of proficiency in flight maneuvers, tasks, and single-pilot
resource management (SRM) skills.
The principle of recency states that things most recently
learned are best remembered. Conversely, the further a
learner is removed in time from a new fact or understanding,
the more difficult it is to remember. For example, it is easy for
a learner to recall a torque value used a few minutes earlier,
but it is more difficult or even impossible to remember an
unfamiliar one used a week earlier.