Even the most knowledgeable instructor must properly organize the material. Once a determination of objectives and standards has been made, an instructor formulates a plan of action to lead students through the course in a logical manner toward the desired goal. Usually the goal for students is a certificate or rating. It could be a private pilot certificate, an instrument rating, or an AMT certificate or rating. In all cases, a systematic plan of action requires the use of an appropriate training syllabus. Generally, the syllabus contains a description of each lesson, including objectives and completion standards.
The main concern of the instructor is usually the more manageable task of organizing a block of training with integrated lesson plans. The traditional organization of a lesson plan is introduction, development, and conclusion.
The introduction sets the stage for everything to come. Efforts in this area pay great dividends in terms of quality of instruction. In brief, the introduction is made up of three elements: attention, motivation, and an overview of what is to be covered.
The purpose of the attention element is to focus each student’s attention on the lesson. The instructor begins by telling a story, showing a video clip, asking a question, or telling a joke. Any of these may be appropriate at one time or another. Regardless of which is used, it should relate to the subject and establish a background for developing the learning outcomes. Telling a story or a joke that is not related in some way to the subject distracts from the lesson. The main concern is to gain the attention of everyone and concentrate on the subject. [Figure 4-7]
The purpose of the motivation element is to offer the students specific reasons why the lesson content is important to know, understand, apply, or perform concepts of Thorndike’s law of readiness. For example, the instructor may talk about an occurrence where the knowledge in the lesson was applied. Or the instructor may remind the students of an upcoming test on the material. This motivation should appeal to each student personally and engender a desire to learn the material.
Every lesson introduction should contain an overview that tells the group what is to be covered during the period. A clear, concise presentation of the objective and the key ideas gives the students a road map of the route to be followed. A good visual aid can help the instructor show the students the path that they are to travel. The introduction should be free of stories, jokes, or incidents that do not help the students focus their attention on the lesson objective. Also, the instructor should avoid a long apologetic introduction, because it only serves to dampen the students’ interest in the lesson.
Development is the main part of the lesson. Here, the instructor develops the subject matter in a manner that helps the students achieve the desired learning outcomes. The instructor must logically organize the material to show the relationships of the main points. The instructor usually shows these primary relationships by developing the main points in one of the following ways: from past to present, simple to complex, known to unknown, and most frequently used to least used.
Past to Present
In this pattern of development, the subject matter is arranged chronologically, from the present to the past or from the past to the present. Time relationships are most suitable when history is an important consideration, as in tracing the development of radio navigation systems.
Simple to Complex
The simple-to-complex pattern helps the instructor lead the student from simple facts or ideas to an understanding of the phenomena or concepts involved. In studying jet propulsion, for example, the student might begin by considering the action involved in releasing air from a toy balloon and finish by taking part in a discussion of a complex gas turbine engine.
Do not be afraid to omit “less important” information at first in order to simplify the learning process. If Class D, E, and G airspace are the only airspace types being utilized by a student, save the discussion of A, B, and C airspace until they have operating familiarity with the other types. Less information at first is easier to absorb.
Known to Unknown
By using something the student already knows as the point of departure, the instructor can lead into new ideas and concepts. For example, in developing a lesson on heading indicators, the instructor could begin with a discussion of the vacuum-driven heading indicator before proceeding to a description of the radio magnetic indicator (RMI).
Most Frequently Used to Least Used
In some subjects, certain information or concepts are common to all who use the material. This fourth organizational pattern starts with common usage before progressing to the rarer ones. Even though most aircraft are equipped with some sort of navigational system, instructors should teach students the basics of navigation. For example, basic map reading is a perishable skill that should be practiced often. Another example is dead reckoning, which forces pilots to be aware of there surroundings at all times. Basic VOR/NDB radio navigation procedures are also perishable and could save lives if proficiency is maintained. Before using a global positioning system (GPS) as the sole means of navigation, students should be taught the basics.
Under each main point in a lesson, the subordinate points should lead naturally from one to another. With this arrangement, each point leads logically to and serves as a reminder of the next. Meaningful transition from one main point to another keeps the students oriented, aware of where they have been, and where they are going. This permits effective sorting or categorizing chunks of information in the working or short-term memory. Organizing a lesson so the students grasp the logical relationships of ideas is not an easy task, but it is necessary if the students are to learn and remember what they have learned. Poorly organized information is of little or no value to the student because it cannot be readily understood or remembered.
An effective conclusion retraces the important elements of the lesson and relates them to the objective. This review and wrap-up of ideas reinforces student learning and improves the retention of what has been learned. New ideas should not be introduced in the conclusion because at this point they are likely to confuse the students.
By organizing the lesson material into a logical format, the instructor maximizes the opportunity for students to retain the desired information. Since each teaching situation is unique, the setting and purpose of the lesson determines which teaching method is used.