Professional driving instructors are distinguishable from parents and friends, who instruct people how to drive through their ability to use a range of different teaching methods for specific learning objectives. Listed below are a number of different techniques that you could use when training your drivers. The information has been taken from the a section in the MERIT report on teaching methods, written by Dr Gregor Bartl, who was a keynote speaker at the Tri-Coaching Conference in 2014:
The instructor demonstrates driving behaviour, e.g. how to use the clutch and the gear shift, etc. It shall be demonstrated in an appropriate way so that the pupil can follow correctly. Demonstrating must be precise, in good coordination and in the right order. When demonstrating the correct behaviour certain details can be enhanced for emphasis, but demonstrating undesirable behaviour should be avoided.
Drawings, pictures, movies and models can help to illustrate things which cannot be observed easily in traffic (because they take place too fast, like the engine running, accidents, complex traffic situations, etc). Appropriate illustrations should aim to simplify complex situations and phenomena, get people interested in details and make difficult tasks and themes more understandable.
3. Use model behaviour
A driving instructor is always a model for the pupil. Hence he/she must behave as a safe, socially responsible road user in every aspect, from wearing a seat belt to defensive driving.
4. Explain, review
Explanations about theory and facts should be presented in a clear, understandable and simple structure. They should correspond to the individual state of knowledge of the pupil. The need for understanding such theory and facts must be made clear.
5. Recount, narrate
When narrating a story, both factual information and emotions are transferred in order to motivate the pupil to behave correct and to avoid incorrect behaviour. The individual learning goal of each story must be made clear. A story always has to have one or more highlights, tension and the final learning goal. But it is also possible to leave the end open to 'set an impulse' or initiate reflection. Use of stories does support the learning process.
Instructions are information about what to do and how to do a task in detail. Instructions must be well prepared, precise, understandable and short, especially during driving. Instructions must above all be given in a friendly or neutral way. The main characteristic of instructions is that they are strict and do not leave open space for individual thinking.
7. Provide impulse/ stimulus
Impulses are given to make pupils start thinking or to encourage them to solve a problem ormaster a task properly themselves. Solutions should be found by the pupil, not by the instructor.
8. Open choice of task
At an advanced stage, it makes sense to let the pupil decide what he should practice moreintensively in order to optimize his skills.
9. Questioning - developing
Certain learning contents can be developed together with the pupil by asking questions. Thismethod activates the learner driver and he/she feels more responsible for the learning process. On the other hand, questions are useful to check the pupil's knowledge. It is important to recognise that this method cannot be applied to every learning situation.
10. Learning games
Playing games encourages a positive learning environment which has a positive effect on thelearning process. Both adults and children sometimes like to play. As a precondition, the goals of the learning game must be clear and the pupils must be willing to participate.
11. Preparing learning
Pupils can be motivated to prepare themselves for the following lesson by, for example, observing other traffic users, collecting information, preparing a presentation or simply thinking about a question. This method can lead to higher personal involvement in the learning process and to a better link to every day life.
When an action is correctly carried out, positive reinforcement should be given by the instructor. This encourages correct behaviour to be carried out more in the future. Each statement made by the instructor is interpreted by the learner driver; hence reinforcement must correspond to the situation.
13. Criticise/ reprimand
Incorrect behaviour should be criticised in order to avoid it in the future it. But never criticise the person, only the wrong behaviour! The criticism should be followed by an explanation.
In order to avoid a conflict or an accident the driving instructor has to correct quickly. Anexplanation should follow immediately once the incident is avoided.
15. Appeal and caution
Appeals should be more specific than general and combined with an explanation, e.g. why he should use the indicator earlier.
The learner driver should be permanently encouraged to assess his own actions / behaviour. This encourages positive independent driving which is, of course, vital once the pupil has passed the test. This aspect relates especially to the third column of the GDE-matrix (self-assessment) and to the need to give the pupil the assessment tools to continue learning even when he/she has a driving licence.
17. Collect and structure ideas
Brainstorming before starting the lesson can activate pupils and help to structure the subsequent learning process. Pupils can be motivated to find solutions, collect ideas, opinions, pros and cons, etc.
18. Probe and discover
Probe should be understood as 'trial and error', and discover in the sense of finding solutions for oneself. The instructor then has to summarize and / or to positively reinforce the correct approach. This method leads to higher learning motivation, to a higher "intrinsic" motivation and the correct behaviour is more likely to be applied later in traffic.
19. Practise and repeat
Consistent training ensures that knowledge and skills are stored in the brain and cannot bedisturbed easily, for instance during stressful situations like the driving test. It is not effective to practice too intensively shortly before the test, because new learning content cannot be memorized in the brain when the person is in a stressed state. For practice and repetition, a relaxed mood is optimal.
20. Individual exercises
Every pupil has his own learning capacity; hence individual learning shall be part of every training. Individual exercises are also necessary to train independent decision-making which is a central element of driving in different traffic situations (= levels two and three of the GDE-matrix).
21. Interactive role plays
Role plays only make sense if pupils are not too shy. Then typical traffic conflicts can beexperienced and analysed. Simple interactive plays can be used to get to know one another in a group.
22. Case studies and situation studies
Concrete examples can be presented and analysed. The central goal of such exercises is totransfer the outcome of the examples analysed to the knowledge and behaviour of the learner driver.
23. Moderation method
Moderation is a complex mix of methods described above. The main difference to groupdiscussion is that the moderator does not give the learning- or discussion goal. The subject or goal is provided by the group or individual pupil. It is an excellent method for developing group processes or for addressing problems in groups. This complex teaching method must also be trained and learned by instructors in practical seminars.
Feedback - a principle of life. Feedback is not only a teaching method but a principle of traffic itself and even a principle of life in general. It can be defined as an ongoing comparison between how something is and how it should be. Hence, lack of feedback in traffic can be a problem. If a driver drives too fast without any negative consequences, this lack of external feedback signals to him that his behaviour was ok.
Driving environment gives poor feedback. Systematic feedback from the traffic environment to the road user is normally very poor. The road environment is thus a "bad instructor", in contrast to skiing, for example, where the consequences of excessive speed are felt immediately! This lack of external feedback needs to be replaced by the driver's own self-assessment skills. Every available form of feedback should be used during driving lessons. Two main types of feedback can be distinguished:
Classic feedback: The trainer praises the learner driver for exemplary behaviour and also for what could be improved.
Advanced feedback: The instructor guides the learner driver by asking questions so that the learner driver is able to give feedback to himself. In this sense, open questions (why, who, what, when...) are better than closed up questions (either or, yes or no...)
25. Commentary driving:
Commentary driving can be seen as a subgroup of feedback. The driver should explain his decision-making processes while driving. In addition to thoughts, emotions can also be evoked in order to make the situation more meaningful and life-like.
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