Student Progress

1.  RATES OF LEARNING

  1. Although it would be convenient if the rate of learning could be consistent and predictable, it is not always so. Students may progress rapidly for a period, and then suddenly progress more slowly or even retrogress for a time. Such variations are to be expected. It is your responsibility to detect them as soon as possible, and to try to eliminate their causes by re-directing your instruction to level them out as much as possible.

2.  ADVANCES AND PLATEAUS

  1. Learning proceeds rapidly at first when a new task is introduced, then slows as a reasonable degree of proficiency is achieved. When plotted on a graph, this decrease in the rate of learning is shown as a levelling of the ascending curve which represents progress (FIG 3). As students achieve the ability to bring together other aspects of training, progress then tends to resume its upward climb at a slower but fairly constant rate.

b. The relatively level portion of the learning curve is termed a plateau. It may represent a period of training during which the student is perfecting the application of the new skill. The correlation of the new skill with the other learning tasks may not yet be obvious.

c. The rate of progress in learning is affected by so many outside influences that it is not often predictable. The rate of learning is affected by such things as:

  1. diversions;
  2. lagging motivation;
  3. emotional disturbances;
  4. upset training schedule;
  5. weather;
  6. equipment breakdown; and
  7. unavoidable absences.

d. Slumps or plateaus in the rate of learning are more likely to occur as your student advances to more complicated operations, such as hovering or transitions. Often the reason is that a student has failed to master one basic element of the operation, which leads to the appearance of deficiency in the performance of later elements. Improvement usually becomes normal again when this one basic element is mastered. You can accelerate improvement by careful fault analysis and by concentrating instruction on that one phase of the operation concerned.

e. Without competent instruction, students will probably not understand why they aren't improving and will become discouraged. This discouragement tends to prolong the plateau. During such periods of discouragement, you should step in to isolate and correct the situation, and to provide special incentives until normal progress is resumed.

f. Reversals sometimes occur, during which a student's performance becomes worse with continued practice. Generally such reversals are due to a faulty habit pattern involving one of the basic elements of the manoeuvre or operation involved. This faulty habit causes your student to practise an erroneous performance repeatedly, until correction becomes very difficult. You must not accept such errors and misunderstandings as normal plateaus in the learning process. They must be corrected before progress can resume.

g. During advanced stages of learning, the rate of progress can be very slow. Example: An acrobat who can perform a routine to a level of 9.6 continually practises to improve the performance. Raising the score up to 9.8 or 10 requires extensive training and practise. Students may be nearly ready for a flight test at an early stage and added training will only show slight, slow improvement.

h. Reversals in the rate of learning could also take place if you were to place too much emphasis on a single phase, element or manoeuvre.

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