Innovative Learning


Although aviation training (e.g., pilots, aircrew, maintenance, air traffic control) is highly specialized, it represents an important category of learning in both civilian and military domains because of the consequences associated with poor performance.

Roscoe (1980) identifies three major categories of skills for aircrew training: procedures, decision-making, and perception. Procedural skills include: communication, navigation, aircraft operation, emergency, and weapons/battle management for military crews. Decision-making activities include: route planning, crew functions, hazard assessment, and target/mission priorities for military crews. Perceptual tasks include: geographic orientiation, aircraft controls/indicators, communication, and for military crews, threat/target identification and weapons systems control.

Because visual processing is a critical skill for flying, the information pickup theory of Gibson is relevant to pilot training. Gibson's theory suggests that stimulus characteristics (e.g., texture, light, shape) play a major role in perception and should be a major focus of instruction. Spatial orientation and imagery abilities are also vital to navigation and manuevering tasks. In addition, selective attention is an important cognitive domain for aircrew and air traffic controllers since they are often presented with complex information processing situations.

Simulators are an important component of most modern aircrew and air traffic control training programs (Taylor & Stokes, 1986). Simulators allow students to practice extensively without the risks and costs of actual flying. Unfortunately, simulation design and activities are often based more on engineering rather than learning considerations (Caro, 1988; Hays & Singer, 1989).

The development of training programs for aviation tends to rely heavily on the use of instructional procedures based upon behavioral psychology (e.g., Gagne , Mager ), especially task analysis, objectives hierarchies, and criterion-referenced testing. In addition, theories of individual differences (e.g., Guilford and Gardner ) suggest the kinds of abilities and skills that determine success as a pilot or air traffic controller.


Caro, P. (1988). Flight training and simulation. In E. Weiner & D. Nagel (eds.), Human Factors in Aviation. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

Hays, R.T., & Singer, M.J. (1989). Simulation Fidelity in Training System Design. New York: Springer-Verlag.

Jensen, R.S. (1989). Aviation Psychology. Aldershot, UK: Gower Technical Publishers.

Roscoe, S.N. (1980). Aviation Psychology. Ames, IA: Iowa State University Press.

Taylor, H.L. & Stokes,A.L. (1986). Flight simulators and training devices. In J. Zeidner (ed.), Human Productivity Enhancement. New York: Praeger.