The Learning Process

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Certified Flight Instructor

CFI Ground School AVF 225

The Learning Process

Chapter 2

The Learning Process
The instructor shall be able to use knowledge of the learning process to take the student to higher levels of learning, increase skill, solve problems and exercise good judgement.

A more in-depth definition of learning than last class:
A change in behavior as the result of an experience
Can be physical or intellectual
The gaining of knowledge or skills, developing a behavior through study, instruction or experience
A permanent change in cognition resulting from experience and directly influencing behavior

Learning Theory
A body of principles to explain how people acquire skills, knowledge and attitudes
Key concepts:
Desired learning outcomes
Objectives of training
Depth of training
Major learning theories
Cognitive theory
Information processing theory
There are more out there but beyond the scope of this class

B.F. Skinner
Explains behavior in terms of observable and measurable response to stimuli
Stimulus vs response
Behavior is predicted based on past rewards and punishments
Classic carrot vs stick approach
Good behavior is reinforced
Bad behavior is punished
The FAA views this theory as being to simple to explain the complex way people learn
Not so much for instruction, more for breaking bad habits or behavior

Cognitive Theory
Cognition is simply the process of thinking and learning
It covers
Problem solving
Decision making
Intellectual activity
Jean Piaget a Swiss psychologist advanced the idea that resolution of tension created by old knowledge and new situations stimulated intellectual growth
This is a key premise behind SBT

Cognitive Theory
Benjamin Bloom classified the levels of behaviors important to learning
By arranging them from simple to complex he came up with Bloom’s Taxonomy

Information Processing Theory
Likens the human brain to a computer
The brain
Processes information
Stores it
Retrieves it
Generates a response
Rather than keyboard and mouse humans use the 5 senses
Unconscious processes run in the background leaving the conscious mind to solve issues that are not habitual

Learning does not happen passively but is an active process
In this theory, learners assume responsibility for their own learning
As the name suggests, learning comes from combining preexisting information with new information
The instructor is there to guide the process, depending more on the student to solve problems and establish relationships
Critical thinking skills are a key component
Critical thinking is using what is known to solve problems

Higher Order Thinking Skills
HOTS is often referred to as Aeronautical Decision making (ADM)
Absence of HOTS in a student usually results in accidents
Teach HOTS by presenting material from
Simple to complex
Concrete to abstract
Strategies for teaching HOTS include
Using problem base learning (PBL)
Authentic problems
Real world problems
Student centered learning
Active learning
Cooperative learning
Customized instruction
Learning of HOTS may not result in observable behavior but constructs meaning from an experience

Scenario Based Training
HOTS is a basic block of SBT
SBT is the use of real world scenarios to meet teaching objectives
It should be used throughout a students training
It helps the student achieve the highest level of learning

Perceptions are the initial intake of information through the 5 senses
Sight 75%
Hearing 13%
Touch 6%
Smell 3%
Taste 3%
It also involves that person giving meaning to the information
Factors that affect perception
Physical organism
Goals and values
Self concept
Time and opportunity
Element of threat

Factors Affecting Perceptions
Physical organism
People who are blind perceive differently from those who can see
Old people, seeing and hearing may not be perfect
Goals and values
This is where the persons beliefs and values alter perceptions
Those things that are valued more are pursued
Weekend warrior pilot vs commercial pilot wannabe
Self concept
Confident vs insecure
If the student has a favorable self image they are more open to learning new things
A negative self image may prevent perceptions from occurring

Factors Affecting Perceptions
Time and Opportunity
A student must be given several looks at whatever is being taught
Generally the more time spent on a subject and the more opportunity for practice, either dual or solo enhance learning
There are limits to this however
Watch for signs of fatigue
Element of Threat
Fear shuts down learning
It narrows the perceptual field
A seemingly non-threating situation may be a real problem for some
It may defy logic

Insights are perceptions grouped into meaningful wholes
It is one of your major responsibilities to connect the dots
Your students should be able to take all available factors analyze how they fit together, know how a change in one effects the others and be able to predict the outcome
The instructor should point out relationships as they occur

Acquiring Knowledge
Usually is the first step in acquiring knowledge
May be inadequate for problem solving skills
The ability to notice similarities and make associations
Knowledge is organized in useful ways
Concept Learning
The grouping of objects, events, ideas ect. that share attributes
Reduces the complexity and creates manageable categories
A generalization of ideas into a framework to help organize and interpret information
It is a shortcut to interpreting vast amounts of information
Formed when people notice a pattern in the information

Laws of Learning
These laws apply to all kinds of learning (REEPIR)

Laws of Learning
Law of Readiness
The learner must want to learn and possess the requisite knowledge and skills to do so
Students must see a clear reason to learn
As an instructor
Communicate a clear objective
Introduce topics in a logical order leading to the next topic
Use “teachable moments”
This is an educational opportunity to highlight useful skill or knowledge
Law of Effect
Learning is strengthened when accompanied by a pleasant or satisfying feeling
When a student feels defeat, frustration, anger, confusion or futility learning is inhibited
Success begets success

Laws of Learning
Law of Exercise
Things often practiced are best remembered
Practice strengthens the learning connection
Disuse weakens the idea or skill
Law of Primacy
Those things taught first are best remembered
The instructor must teach correctly the first time
Relearning is more difficult than learning it right the first time

Laws of Learning
Law of Intensity
Students will learn better from the real thing than a substitute
An exciting dramatic learning event will be better remembered than a dull boring one
SBT can play a role here
Law of Recency
Things most recently learned are best remembered
The more time goes by before practice, the better the chance it is forgotten
The summary for a lesson becomes important in this regard

The Domains of Learning
The domains of learning provide us with a framework to classify how people learn
There are 3:

The Cognitive Domain
This covers recalling specific facts and concepts that lead to abilities and skill
A central key concept to the cognitive domain are the levels of learning
There are 4 levels:

Levels of Learning
This is the lowest level of learning
It involves the memorization of facts
Define, identify and label are indicators of rote knowledge
When concepts are put together
At this level the student may have the idea but may not be able to do
Describe, estimate or explain are indicators of understanding
When two or more concepts are put together to form something new
This is when the student can accomplish the task
Determine, develop and solve are indicators of application
This is the highest level of learning
This should be the objective of every instructional lesson
When a student associates other blocks of learning
Differentiate, examine and compare are indicators of correlation

Affective Domain
This accounts for the learners feelings toward what is being learned
Enthusiasm, motivation and attitudes describe this domain
5 levels are taught here
This is probably one of the more challenging domains to be effective because it depends on factors typically well shaped before the student comes to you for flight instruction

Psychomotor Domain
This is skill based and involves the motor skills needed to execute tasks
Reparative good practice is necessary
You may use a few tools here
You may demonstrate, use visual media, computer based training and/or reading
The learner then tries to copy what has been shown
Practice must be consistent and right, never let the student practice mistakes
Habit formation
If practiced enough it becomes habit enabling it to be done unconsciously

Domains Overview
Characteristics of Learning
Instruction should be a careful and systematic creation of the experiences that cause a change in behavior
Otherwise we will prompt behaviors that are not conducive with the goal of producing a good pilot
So to produce that environment we use 4 guidelines
Learning is purposeful
Learning is the result of experience
Learning is multifaceted
Learning is an active process

Characteristics of Learning
Learning is purposeful
Each student should see why what they are learning helps achieve their goals
This folds in with the law of readiness
As an instructor, find ways to relate what is being taught to the student’s goals and values system
Learning is the result of experience
The instructor has to provide the time and opportunity for the experience to happen
The experience should be meaningful, varied and appropriate to the task
It should be relatable to real world situations

Characteristics of Learning
Learning is multifaceted
Try to incorporate an intellectual component to practice
Use that particular student’s primary learning type to enhance practice
Learning types are:
Problem solving
It may be possible to use more than 1 learning type at a time
Students may also learn more than one thing at a time
The experience may connect dots previously unconnected

Characteristics of Learning
Learning is an active process
You cannot assume that even though you have an awesome lecture, that everyone will walk out knowing all
Unfortunately you cannot open a students noggin and pour the knowledge in
Students need to react and respond
Some students will react and respond outwardly others inwardly some not at all
Some will react emotionally some will react intellectually
Try to foster an environment of engagement

Learning Styles
Right brain
Likes demonstrations
The general concept then the facts
Prefers open ended questions
Responds to tone of voice
Recalls peoples faces
Holistic or global
Likes art
Holistic learner, prefers the big picture first, gulps large quantities of knowledge then it just clicks
Top down learners
Left brain
Responds to verbal instruction
Likes it step by step
Prefers writing
Planned and structured
Does well on multiple choice test
Recalls peoples names
Likes math
Serialist learner logical, thorough and from the bottom up

Learning Styles
Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic learners (VAK)
Visual learners store information as pictures or images
If the lesson is something they can see, they’ve got it
Auditory learners need an oral component for storage
They are better at speaking answers than writing them down
This means they don’t take very good notes but are excellent listeners
Kinesthetic learners store information by means of a physical experience
They like to move around while learning something new
They excel at hands on practice
Their concentration wanders when there is no physical component
Superlinks is a mish mash of VAK, right brain, left brain theories

Acquiring Skill Knowledge
This is knowledge of how to do something, like fly an aircraft
Cognitive stage
Memorization of the steps required
Use a clear step by step process
Having a model or good example of what it should look like is paramount
Associative stage
Practice of the steps required
Time and opportunity
Verbal instructions become more meaningful which includes diagnosis and treatment of errors, Dr. CFI
Automatic Response Stage
Subconscious execution of the steps required
Only comes after long terms of practice
May be possible to accomplish tasks simultaneously

Acquiring Skill Knowledge
The instructor is an important part of the feedback chain
When a student does well let them know
When a student sucks let them know how to fix it
In learning a skill mistakes come with the scenery
The power law of practice
The speed of performance improves as a power of the number of times the task is performed
Fancy way of saying more practice = better performance
Learning Plateaus
This is when the relative rate of improvement slows down for a while
They suck
Typically the first one is encountered prior to solo with regards to landings
The new instructor likes to counter this with larger amounts of practice
Tell your student this is normal, move on to something else then come back to the task

Types of Practice
Deliberate practice
This practice is aimed at a particular goal
The student practices for specific areas of improvement
Avoid distractions during deliberate practice, it’s better uninterrupted
Blocked practice
Practicing the same drill until it becomes automatic
Tends to fool the student and instructor into thinking it is well learned
Random practice
Mixes up the skills and leads to better retention
Easier for the student to see similarities and differences between the tasks
Better long term memory acquisition

The continued study of a skill after initial proficiency has been achieved
Automatic process is reached and it may be more about the step by step than the over all concept
Sometimes it’s a good thing – more efficient and streamlined
In other cases it can be a problem
It can be a routine for routine sake, like a checklist
This may lead to disregard for detecting an actual problem

The simultaneous execution of 2 or more tasks simultaneously
Attention Switching
Continuously switching attention back and forth between 2 or more tasks
Like running a checklist
Simultaneous Performance
Usually happens when one of the tasks is automatic
For example making a radio call while flying the pattern
Fixation and inattention
This is the other side of the coin
Try to see what the students attention is fixed on
Usually a reminder to “keep your eyes outside” is all it takes
However you may need to instruct the student on where to look

Occurs when a person plans to do one thing but then inadvertently does something else
Slips are errors of action
When a student doesn’t do the level off checklist
Occurs when a person plans to do the wrong thing and is successful
Result of gaps or misconceptions in understanding
Eliminate them by:
Learning and practice
Taking time
Checking for errors
Using reminders
Developing routines
Raising awareness
Make sure your students can recover from errors
Learn from errors

Defined as the reason someone acts or behaves in a certain way, usually linked to goals and values
Your job as CFI is to find out what motivates your student and use that to promote an efficient learning environment
Negative motivation may be useful in some situations
“Flat landings will kill me”
Pretty much anything that ends in “it will kill me” is pretty good stuff
Motivation may be tangible or intangible
Intangible includes, comfort and security, group approval, better self image
Tangible includes not dying, achieving a certificate or a better wage
Slumps in learning are almost always related to motivation

Motivation is an internal drive to get something
Know the student’s background
This will help in determining where the motivation come from
Or just ask them what motivates you
Steps to keep your students motivated
Reward success
Present new challenges
Remind the student of their goals
Assure students learning plateaus are normal
Make it fun
Make it funner
Make it much more funner

Sensory memory
This is what receives the initial stimuli and processes it based on already ingrained perceptions
If you can use more than 1 of the 5 senses it make a more dramatic impact
Short term memory
Information is stored for about 30 seconds
Rehearsal or repetition may enhance
It takes 5-10 seconds to encode information
Is limited to 7 bits (for most people) of information at a time
If the information is recoded to adjust for individual experience then actual learning may take place
So this is the process the CFI wants to capitalize on
There are 3 basic operations to short term memory:
Iconic memory
Acoustic memory
Sounds last longer than pictures
Working memory
Scratch pad type memory like remembering a squak code

Long term memory
Is a relatively permanent storage of virtually unlimited amounts of information
May remain there for a life time
Moving items from short term to long term means attaching some meaning to it
Take your first solo for example
Some special effort is required to move the item to long term memory
Sometimes there is an emotional component
Sometimes it is related to ones values and goals
Sometimes it is just because your weird
Time, biases and personal inaccuracies may effect the information stored in long term memory
Retrieval failure is simply the inability to remember something
Fading is the decay of a memory over time
Interference is when an experience overshadows another
Repression or suppression is a conscious or subconscious attempt to hide the memory

Retention of Learning
Praise stimulates learning
Pleasurable experiences will tend to want to be repeated
Recall is promoted by association
When the student tends to connect the item with what’s already know it enhances recall
Favorable attitudes aid retention
Positive motivation to learn aids the ability to recall
Learning with all senses is most effective
Seeing and hearing are predominate but add in taste and smell, now it’s a party
Meaningful repetition
As long as practice is not for practice sake it aids in retention
Practice provides an opportunity to lean but does not guarantee retention
3 is usually the magic number, some may take 4
This can be a powerful tool to achieve the rote level of learning

Transfer of Learning
The ability to apply knowledge learned in one context to new contexts
A positive transfer is when experience is used to enhance the overall learning outcome
For example if you always check your oil pressure when you start your car, you do the same in the aircraft
Negative transfer is when experience inhibits the ability to learn
Negative transfer happens when you apply steering the airplane the same way you steer your car
Near transfer consists of transfer from initial learning to ones that are closely related
Far transfer is the ability to use what was used in one setting to a different setting
Generality means the learner has the ability to come up with novel solutions

Transfer of Learning
Habit formation
Primacy is a fundamental process here
Do not let your students practice mistakes
“Be care of what you put into that head for you will never ever get it out”
Intricate cognitive processes to rudimentary skills may benefit
When a student has a deep rooted understanding of the processes it enhances memory
Remembering during training
Disuse is the enemy here
Try to provide the time and opportunity to keep things fresh
Remembering after training
Students must have a sound understanding when they finish training
Students must realize that continued practice is needed to ensure skills are retained

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