Teaching and Learning Strategies
Teaching and Learning strategies are our core skills which underpin our ability to increase the learning opportunities for our clients. These strategies are the methods we use to facilitate learning and should be suited to each individuals learning style, taking into consideration how each learner might best absorb and process the information they are presented with and any barriers they might have to learn in the long term, such as anxieties and motivations, and in the short term, such as mood or physical well-being.
As an example, a traditional driving lesson would typically begin with a briefing, particularly if the lesson plan that day covered a new topic, however that strategy may not be effective to a pupil with an activist approach to learning, whereby they would most likely benefit from inclusion in the conversation, to build a strategy for themselves. They will certainly want to get stuck into the task as soon as possible. However adopting a similar approach to a theorist is unlikely to benefit either party, as without adequate background knowledge this type of learner is likely to disengage from the process.
Therefore we see the need, in the long term, to adopt an individual approach to each client since we all have our individual approaches to the way we learn and process information and in our teaching styles and preferences. In the short term, it might be necessary to adjust the approach you might normally adopt for your learner if, for example, they are having personal problems. A pupil who has just learned of a serious illness to a loved one, or who has just had a blazing argument with a partner, might not be capable of listening to facts, figures and routines that day. Instead, they might benefit from a change in a lesson plan that doesn’t require a briefing, perhaps something they have already covered and are competent with, and a temporary shift in learning style from theorist to activist. Your client might learn a lot about themselves as a person, and the effects that their feelings can have on their ability to drive safely if you provide a good level of Q&A around the thoughts, feelings and behaviour of your learner at suitable points throughout the lesson
The DVSA ADI 1 States:
The important thing to remember when considering teaching and learning styles is that it is not just about coaching. It is about client-centred learning. Our judgement should be about whether the ADI can help the pupil to learn in an active way. Also, remember instruction based around the core competencies used currently is pretty good. We must not throw that away. We are trying to increase the options available to an ADI
A Client-Centred approach should be adopted, which should include instructional techniques as these can be essential to early learning and safety. However an instructor-led approach can be detrimental to the depth of learning achieved since this type of approach is rooted in rational thought, the level of hierarchy creates barriers to learning around the goals and motivations of the individual and as such instructor-led approaches do not adequately address higher-order cognitive skills, since the principles of an instructor-led relationship mainly focus on the instructor is solely responsible for fault identification, analysis of fault and provision of remedies, plus any additional feedback. Therefore the client does not meet or address the higher levels, or third column of the Goals for Driver Education matrix in their training. In an instructor-led learning process, the learner takes card information given to them by the instructor and practises the skill until faults disappear. However simple repetition is not enough for reaching the higher-order cognitive and motivational aspects of learning and driving, such as risk awareness, hazard perception, impulse control, decision-making, and the ability to plan, which have been shown to have a major influence on driving. Aspects of higher-order thinking when learning to drive are best met through the instructor’s provision for active learning experiences, for example through teaching strategies of self-evaluation, interactive feedback, experiential learning methods and facilitated group discussion among learners about problems and driving experiences.
The diagram below highlights higher-order cognitive skills down to lower-order cognitive skills:
In Prosser et al. (1999) analysis, the researcher defined teacher and student-focused approaches as:
A teacher-focused approach is characteristic of an instructor’s stated intention to transmit information to the student, and/or the belief that the student needs to acquire a set of concepts/skills for learning to drive.
A student-focused approach is characteristic of an instructor’s stated intention that the students construct their knowledge as a necessary means to change their conceptions or produce new conceptions in learning to drive [i.e. a constructivist approach to teaching and learning
This Client-Centred (student-focused) method of active learning aims to create new drivers with greater self-awareness of strengths, weaknesses and personal motivations, together with the essential ability to find solutions for themselves. Since this model intends to elicit learning from within the student whilst addressing how their thoughts and motivations might impact their behaviours.
The Hermes Project (2007-2010) states:
Coaching aims to increase the responsibility and awareness of the learner to help him learn how to learn, even after the driving test. Instruction may be quicker in the short term but essentially this type of teaching only prepares the learner to pass the test, rather than preparing the novice driver for ongoing awareness and learning when driving solo. Giving basic instruction has the effect of lowering the level of responsibility and awareness of the learner. The instruction says to the learner: ‘ I, the trainer, am in control. I will tell you what to do and when to do it.’ The learning effect is minimal because the action did not come from within: it is obeying rather than learning. But keep the following two facts in mind a combination of both the highlighted: First, students might require to be taught instead of coached especially during the first lessons on vehicle manoeuvring and basic traffic regulation.
It is our role as instructors to understand how our preferred teaching style might create barriers to learning for our pupils, to be able to adapt to each individual’s preferred long and short-term learning style, whilst addressing higher-order cognitive skills and all levels of the GDE matrix. It is important to note that traditional instructional techniques around the core competencies of fault identification, fault analysis and fault remedy are still essential to safe teaching in an on-road scenario, perhaps to help develop new skills and when necessary to ensure the safety of the vehicle and the surroundings.
The DVSA ADI States:
Direct instruction is useful in helping a pupil in the early stages cope with new situations or supporting a pupil who is clearly struggling in a certain situation. Good coaching will use the correct technique at the correct time, matching the pupil’s needs. In some cases, the ADI may need to give direct instruction through a particularly difficult situation. That instruction forms part of a coaching process if the ADI then encourages the pupil to analyse the problem and take responsibility for learning from it. A good ADI will take every opportunity to reinforce learning.
In this final chapter, I will address each of the 8 competencies on the DVSA’s Standards Check report, under the broader heading of ‘T&L Strategies’, to help you discover how to address each of the competencies and understand which approaches you can adopt to help your clients to get the most out of their learning experience. Additionally we consider the benefits to both your client’s long term learning and to road safety.