Aviation Training Resources: How Effective Are They?

single pilotEach year, reports are issued on the latest trends in aviation safety. Training departments scurry to find products and resources to counteract those trends. But is the effect of these efforts lasting?

Unfortunately, most of the products and resources available to our flight departments today are knowledge based. The training experience is centered on filling us up with lots of facts, data, figures, historical accounts, and the like. This is good to a point. However, so much emphasis has been placed on the acquisition of knowledge, that most of us have experienced cognitive overload. This is when the amount of data received is so quick and so extensive that there is not time to actually “think” about its validity and practicality. At this point, we tend to stop the learning process, come up for air, and resign ourselves to wait it out, hoping the coffee break or end of the course comes quickly.

Passion in Learning

People learn best when the training holds meaning. Children learn to tell time because they want to know when Grandma’s coming and how many more minutes it will take till she arrives, not because it was scheduled in chapter 5 of the math book. Similarly, pilots learn best if their training is meaningful to their work environment or their professional growth rather than fulfillment of mandates. A passion for knowledge and skill development ensures that learning is lasting and enjoyable. We suspect that is why most of us got involved in aviation in the first place; we had a passion for flying. Is that passion still alive?

Application Makes it Stick

In addition to passion and knowledge, we also need application. This is the key to retention of all that has been learned.  The Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve suggest that over half of the knowledge we receive in training will be lost within the first day unless we are given an opportunity to practice with it. Over half! Translating that into dollars, over half of the money our departments are spending on training is lost unless there is a means for application. This need for application is evident in this quote by a Part 135 Operator.

“CRM training is not reinforced in our schoolhouse events. Not at all. We can’t even get them to emphasize our call outs or SOPs. Simulator training is largely a rote exercise.”

Knowledge based training and standards have a place in aviation. Too much of it, and it feels as if we are just “going through the motions”. Adding meaning and application back into training experiences will lock in retention and bring the personalized effect that so many of us wish for.

Have your training experiences and resources included meaning and application, or centered heavily on knowledge?

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