Evaluation of Student Ability

Evaluation of a student’s ability is an important element of instruction. Used in this context, evaluation refers to judging a student’s ability to perform a maneuver or procedure.

Demonstrated Ability

Evaluation of demonstrated ability during flight or maintenance instruction is based upon established standards of performance, suitably modified to apply to the student’s experience and stage of development as a pilot or mechanic. The evaluation considers the student’s mastery of the elements involved in the maneuver or procedure, rather than merely the overall performance. For example, qualification of student pilots for solo and solo cross-country privileges depends upon demonstrations of performance.

Keeping the Student Informed

In evaluating student demonstrations of ability, it is important for the aviation instructor to keep the student informed of progress. This may be done as each procedure or maneuver is completed or summarized during a postflight or class critique. These critiques should be in a written format, such as notes, to aid the instructor in covering all areas that were noticed during the flight or lesson. When explaining errors in performance, instructors point out the elements in which the deficiencies are believed to have originated and, if possible, suggest appropriate corrective measures.

Correction of Student Errors

Correction of student errors does not include the practice of taking over from students immediately when a mistake is made. Safety permitting, it is frequently better to let students progress part of the way into the mistake and find a way out. For example, in a weight-shift control aircraft the bar is moved right to turn left. A student may show an initial tendency to move the bar in the direction of the desired turn. This tendency dissipates with time, but allowing the student to see the effect of his or her control input is a valuable aid in illustrating the stability of the aircraft. It is difficult for students to learn a maneuver properly if they seldom have the opportunity to correct an error.

On the other hand, students may perform a procedure or maneuver correctly but not fully understand the principles and objectives involved. If the instructor suspects this, students should be required to vary the performance of the maneuver or procedure slightly. The maneuver or procedure may also be combined with other operations, or the same elements could be applied to the performance of other maneuvers or procedures. Students who do not understand the principles involved will probably not be able to successfully complete the revised maneuver or procedure.