Preparation of a Lesson (Part Two)

The Importance of the PTS in Aviation Training Curricula

PTS hold an important position in aviation training curricula because they supply the instructor with specific performance objectives based on the standards that must be met for the issuance of a particular aviation certificate or rating. [Figure 4-5] The FAA frequently reviews the test items in an attempt to maintain their validity in the current aviation environment. It is a widely accepted belief in the aviation community that test items included as part of a test or evaluation should be both content valid and criterion valid. Content validity means that a particular maneuver or procedure closely mimics what is required. Criterion validity means that the completion standards for the test are reflective of acceptable standards.

Figure 4-5. Examples of Practical Test Standards.

Figure 4-5. Examples of Practical Test Standards.

For example, in flight training, content validity is reflected by a particular maneuver closely mimicking a maneuver required in actual flight, such as the student pilot being able to recover from a power-off stall. Criterion validity means that the completion standards for the test are reflective of acceptable standards in actual flight. Thus, the student pilot exhibits knowledge of all the elements involved in a power-off stall as listed in the PTS.


As discussed in category 2, humans develop cognitive skills through active interaction with the world. This concept has led to the adoption of scenario-based training (SBT) in many fields, including aviation. An effective aviation instructor uses the maneuver-based approach of the PTS but presents the objectives in a scenario situation.

It has been found that flight students using SBT methods demonstrate stick-and-rudder skills equal to or better than students trained under the maneuver-based approach only. Of even more significance is that the same data also suggest that SBT students demonstrate better decision-making skills than maneuver based students—most likely because their training occurred while performing realistic flight maneuvers and not artificial maneuvers designed only for the test.

Research also indicates SBT may lead to improved piloting and navigation skills over traditional maneuver-based training techniques. SBT trained participants demonstrated the same skills and knowledge as the maneuver-based trained participants, but the maneuvers were practiced in the context of a scenario. Many scenarios were coupled to the maneuver until the student not only had the requisite skills, but also related them to many conditions where they would be needed. The data also support that when a condition occurs requiring a maneuver, the SBT participant responded quickly and more accurately than the participant trained only under the maneuver-based approach. A participant lacking SBT instruction must search his or her memory to link a maneuver to a situation.

Decision-Based Objectives

Decision-based objectives are designed specifically to develop pilot judgment and ADM skills. Improper pilot decisions cause a significant percentage of all accidents, and the majority of fatal accidents in light single- and twin-engine aircraft. Often combined with traditional task and maneuver training within a given scenario, decision-based objectives facilitate a higher level of learning and application. By using dynamic and meaningful scenarios, the instructor teaches the student how to gather information and make informed, safe, and timely decisions.

Decision-based training is not a new concept. Experienced CFIs have been using scenarios that require dynamic problem solving to teach cross-country operations, emergency procedures, and other flight skills for years.


Decision-based learning objectives and the use of flight training scenarios do not preclude traditional maneuver-based training. Rather, flight maneuvers are integrated into the flight training scenarios and conducted as they would occur in the real world. Those maneuvers requiring repetition may still be taught during concentrated settings. However, once they are learned, they are integrated into more realistic and dynamic flight situations.

Decision-based objectives are also important for the aviation instructor planning AMT training. An AMT uses ADM and risk management skills not only on the job site but also in the repair and maintenance of aircraft.

Other Uses of Training Objectives

Performance-based and decision-based objectives are also helpful for an instructor designing a lesson plan. Having decided on the objectives, an instructor can use this information to complete many of the steps on the lesson plan. For example, once the instructor decides how the student will accomplish the objective, most of the work that determines the elements of the lesson and the schedule of events has been done. The equipment necessary and the instructor and student actions anticipated during the lesson have also been specified. By listing the criteria for the training objectives, the instructor has already established the completion standards normally included as part of the lesson plan.

Use of training objectives also provides the student with a better understanding of the big picture, as well as knowledge of what is expected. This overview can alleviate a significant source of uncertainty and frustration on the part of the student.

As indicated in the Human Behavior category, training objectives apply to all three domains of learning—cognitive (knowledge), affective (attitudes, beliefs, values), and psychomotor (physical skills). In addition, since each domain includes several educational or skill levels, training objectives may easily be adapted to a specific performance level of knowledge or skill. Clearly defined training objectives that the student understands are essential to the teaching process regardless of the teaching technique used.


Presentation of a Lesson

Research into how people learn has led many experts to recommend ways to present lessons that keep the attention of a class. The steps in Figure 4-6 form a guideline for lesson presentation. Many of them can be combined during the actual presentation. For example, consider a video presentation given during the weight and balance lecture. The video adds a multimedia element to the lecture, is a good attention getter, and can be used to visually demonstrate the learning objective.

Figure 4-6. Guidelines for presenting lessons.

Figure 4-6. Guidelines for presenting lessons.