Understanding the Fundamentals of Instructing

Picture this: it's your first flight lesson ever. You walk into your brand new flight school, in which you've never flown their planes before, and have yet to meet anyone you know there. This is all fresh to you. Do you think your first flight lesson will be highly productive, or will produce somewhat of a challenge?

The answer is, according to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, that you will not learn as much as if you felt comfortable in your new school. This is the belonging hierarchy. Once you get settled in, learn their fleet, make some friends and are known by the people there then you'll start to unconsciously progress better with each lesson.

Factors such as this are what makes up what is referred to as Fundamentals of Instructing, or FOI's. 

FOI's are important to the instructor in flight training as well as to the student because it defines concepts like human behavior & how we acquire knowledge; why we act the way we do and how we learn. 

Let's discuss some important topics of FOI's that are commonly seen as well as discussed on a flight instructor check ride:

1) Human Needs That Must Be Met to Encourage Learning

Physiological: Biological needs such as water, air, sleep and shelter. It's easier to focus and grasp something when you've eaten and are properly hydrated compared to when you're not.

Security: Feeling safe and secure in the environment around you

Belonging: Just as previously discussed, feeling wanted and including

Esteem: Have you ever heard of a lesson where your instructor refers to it as confidence building? Self confidence is important in flying

Cognitive & Aesthetic: This is connected to when we as humans like or don't like something. We'll learn more from a teacher that we like than one we don't.

Self-Actualization: I like to think of this as knowing where you're at and where you're going. Helping a student achieve their potential is an important job of a flight instructor.

2) Defense Mechanisms

Repression, Denial, Compensation, Projection, Rationalization, Reaction Formation, Fantasy, and Displacement

These are important to recognize because they're excuses (so to speak) that people use when they have a bad experience to protect their ego. One of the most common exhibited by students in flight training is reaction formation; faking a belief opposite to the true belief because it causes anxiety. For example, pretending they don't care how their lesson went after a bad day when in reality it bothers them. These can all be found in more detail in the Aviation Instructor's Handbook chapter 1.

3) Types of Practice

Skipping ahead to chapter 3, there are types of practice instructor's can use to help a student learn a skill. These are:

Deliberate: Aiming a practice at a deliberate goal, such as specifically focusing on slow fight during one lesson. The student and instructor have set a goal to accomplish something before beginning the lesson.

Blocked: This is doing the same drill until the movement becomes automatic, also known as creating a muscle memory. Blocked practice can be seen most often during landings, as the instructor has the student memorize a before landing checklist. The student configures the plane on downwind (mixture full rich, carb heat, gear down etc) then can go to the checklist to ensure they did not forget an item. 

Random: Random practice is mixing up skills, for example going out and giving the student maneuvers to perform randomly so it tests how well they understand and can perform it consistently. 

There are MANY many concepts to learn about when studying FOI's. These are just 3 that will likely be brought up by an examiner, however they will cover much much more. 

The Aviation Instructor's Handbook as well as the Flight Instructor Oral Exam Guide published by ASA are good materials to use when preparing for a CFI check ride. 

After you finish reading about FOI's, go check out some more articles full of aviation information published by Globalair.com as well as reading articles written by our 2019-2020 scholarship recipients! 

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