Introduction to Student Assessment

The afternoon before a flight lesson, Linda, a Certificated Flight Instructor, sends an e-mail to her student, Brian, and asks him to plan tomorrow’s flight. She attaches a copy of the syllabus and task list to the e-mail and emphasizes the need to work on both flight deck automation (Multi-Function Display (MFD), Global Positioning System (GPS), and Primary Flight Display (PFD)), and pattern and landing skills. Brian puts together a short, two-leg cross-country flight plan that allows for plenty of pattern entry and landing work, while using the en route legs to explore the flight deck electronic displays.


Brian also adds a stall series because he did not really understand the aerodynamics of power-off stalls during the last lesson. The next day, Brian briefs Linda on his plan and presents his completed paperwork for the flight. Linda notes the addition of stalls and approves the plan. Next, she and her student engage in a discussion of the areas of the flight that he still does not understand, and she quizzes him on proper procedures as well as possible situations and decisions they may encounter.

Once in the air, Brian plans and executes the flight. Linda interjects comments and questions as the need arises. Linda alternates between demonstration, questioning, and suggesting an alternate course of action, always allowing Brian time to participate in the discussion.

After landing, Brian and Linda sit down to assess the flight. Linda begins by asking Brian to discuss the flight from his perspective. As he talks, she listens for areas where her assessment of Brian’s performance differs from his own perceptions. After Brian completes his self-assessment, Linda offers her view, and she and Brian discuss the areas of disagreement. By asking Brian to lead the initial post-flight assessment and discussing areas where her perceptions of his performance differ, Linda is both instilling the self-assessment habits Brian will need throughout his flying career and helping him learn to make accurate perceptions.

Assessment is an essential and continuous (ongoing) component of the teaching and learning processes. No skill is more important to an instructor than the ability to continuously analyze, appraise, and judge a student’s performance. The student looks to the instructor for guidance, suggestions for improvement, and encouragement. The instructor must gather the information needed to evaluate student progress throughout the course. This information helps to shape the learning process by guiding an instructor regarding what needs to be reinforced during instruction, as well as helping the instructor determine the readiness of the aviation student to move forward.

This section examines the instructor’s role in assessing levels of learning, describes methods of assessment, and discusses how to construct and conduct effective assessments. The techniques and methods described in this chapter apply as much to the aviation instructor in the classroom as to the aircraft maintenance instructor in the shop, or to the flight instructor in the aircraft or in the briefing area. Since each student is different and each learning situation is unique, the outcome may not be what the instructor expected. Whatever the outcome, the instructor must be able to assess student performance and convey this information to the student. To do so, the instructor utilizes several different types of assessment.