Saturday, January 4, 2014

trying to get ahead of the learning curve

Over the last couple months, I have been behind the learning curve in a big way. I started a new job in a new domain, and I decided to get my instructors rating. Since I haven't flown for a couple years, I decided to concentrate on my ground instructor rating, then I can go look at flight instructor another time. Two big domains of information cramming stuff into my little brain has been a challenge finding time to explain stuff. (nevermind the holidays and family issues, and all).

The FAA is changing the testing for everyone, and that could be a good thing, but it may not be. As part of the advanced ground instruction (AGI) rating I completed recently, there were two distinct parts. There was the flying instruction, and the fundamentals of instruction (FOI) part. The flying part was relatively easy, since I feel pretty confident in my understanding of the fundamentals of flight. The ground instruction test was pretty easy, and the questions and answers mostly matched the test prep I used.

The FOI was a real challenge. The FOI test is the one the FAA has changed significantly in the last couple of years. The main book for the test is the Aviation Instructors Handbook (FAA-H-8083-9A). It looks a little more colorful than most of the other FAA documents, and seems to have some really good information in it. Lots of learning theory, and psychology presented in a way to help the reader understand how people in general, and pilots in particular learn. Things that may offer help in overcoming difficulty when instructing different individuals.

The FOI test took a left turn from there. There are plenty of really informative good ideas in the book, but the test rather than focusing on those items, decided to test on nuances that may not be applicable. One example of the test, it asked the details of Bloom's Taxonomy of the Cognitive Domain, and not why they matter, or how to apply them. Like in a flight while teaching, I will consider Knowledge, Comprehension, Application, Analysis, Synthesis, and Evaluation, when  dealing with a student about to cross control an aircraft in a base to final turn. As we are spinning into the ground, I will think more about the application of control inputs, and how I should have emphasized them more, without considering the students comprehension.

Other places in the FOI test, they put in three perfectly good answers. I know at least twice in the test, I said to myself, "all of the above". Other places, there were three answers that contradicted the book. A question about the PTS asked what they are for. They are for testing, but the answer choices where all over the place, were they teaching aids (well the book says introduce them in the last three hours, sounds like a teaching aid to me).

I felt like I worked really hard preparing for this test. None of my practice tests since Christmas (when I re-read the book) did I get less than an 82. When I got done with the real test, I knew I didn't do that well and felt my score, if I passed, was just above 70. It was above 70, but not by much.

I guess end of the day, in 3 years when teaching a class no one will ask me if I got a 99 on the test or a 71, I passed, and I will continue to learn, and part of being a professional includes research (that was another question on the test). I shall be a professional.

What will I do with my new knowledge, and skill? I hope to introduce people to the concepts of flying. I want my classes to be broad enough that it will answer peoples questions about how aircraft work, with enough detail to allow the students to pass the private pilot ground school at the end, and give them the tools to do something with their knowledge. I am considering another blog around teaching people to fly.

What do you all want to know?

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