Aeronautical decision making in pilot training

Aeronautical decision making in pilot training

In 2011 Cassens et al1 carried out a research study into aeronautical decision making (ADM) in training. The study investigated the difference between the opinions of faculty academics (thought to be experts in the topic) and flight instructors. The study investigated what elements should be included in the curriculum as well as which instructional techniques should be used in pilot ADM training. This article provides a meta-analysis on the original results.

Illustration 1 shows results for 22 elements of ADM, the mean assessment of each by faculty and instructors, and the effect size (Cohen's d) of the difference between both groups. Academics responded their assessment on the elements that should be incorporated into ADM training, while instructors responded on the ADM elements that were included in current flight training.

Academics showed strong agreement that all twenty-two aspects should be included in ADM training. Their responses were generally more extreme than that of instructors, with responses to 14 elements showing a small to large difference in relation to instructors' responses.

Illustration 1: ADM mean differences between academics and instructors
ADM element Faculty Instructor d5 Difference6
Risk management 5.00 4.36 0.89 medium
Course of action analysis 4.86 4.15 0.99 medium
Course of action selection 4.86 4.12 1.03 medium
Situational awareness 4.86 4.56 0.42
Situation assessment 4.86 4.13 1.02 medium
Change recognition 4.71 4.31 0.56 small
Headwork 4.71 4.12 0.82 medium
Course of action development 4.71 4.12 0.82 medium
Attitude management 4.57 3.96 0.85 medium
Skills and procedures 4.57 4.60 -0.04
Stress management 4.57 3.67 1.25 large
Communication 4.57 4.39 0.25
Poor judgement chain 4.57 4.09 0.67 small
Attention control 4.43 4.08 0.49 small
Leadership 4.43 4.30 0.18
Organisational influence 4.43 4.13 0.42
Social influence 4.43 3.78 0.90 medium
Dynamic problem solving 4.43 3.96 0.65 small
Computing time available 4.29 4.17 0.17
Aviation experience 4.14 4.24 -0.14
Values 4.00 3.79 0.29
Personality 4.00 3.65 0.49 small
(Mean values on a Likert scale running from '1, Strongly disagree' to '5, Strongly agree'.)

Illustration 2 shows results for nine selected instructional techniques for teaching ADM, the mean assessment of each by faculty and instructors, and the effect size (Cohen's d) of the difference between groups. Academics responded their assessment on the importance of the techniques for teaching ADM, while instructors responded on how frequently they deemed themselves to be using the same instructional techniques.

Results showed that academics strongly agreed that all nine instructional techniques should be used and were important for proper ADM training. The instructor’s responses were somewhat less extreme for all nine instructional techniques (sensible differences in opinion ranging from small to large differences). That is, academics agreed more strongly and had more consolidated opinions on how ADM should be taught than how the instructors were currently teaching ADM.

Illustration 2: Teaching methods mean differences between academics and instructors
Instructional methods Faculty Instructor d5 Difference6
Set good examples of ADM 5.00 4.47 0.69 small
Evaluate ability to exercise ADM 4.86 4.40 0.60 small
Debrief on poor decisions and solutions 4.86 4.43 0.56 small
Encourage to look for judgement errors 4.86 3.83 1.35 large
Encourage practical use of ADM 4.71 4.17 0.71 small
Introduce complex problems under stress 4.71 3.77 1.23 large
Teach ADM by example 4.71 4.33 0.50 small
Evaluate go/no go decisions 4.57 3.73 1.10 large
Incorporate realistic scenarios 4.57 3.47 1.44 large
(Mean values on a Likert scale running from '1, Strongly disagree' to '5, Strongly agree'.)

Study's scope

The sample used gives a single point in time data from a particular Midwestern flight training university. If any generalisations are extrapolated from this data it should only be for similar populations, keeping in mind the likelihood of varying influences at different flight schools would likely produce a variance from the results seen here. That being considered it does indicate lines of inquiry for further research into the development and improvement of ADM training.

1. CASSENS Ronda E, John P YOUNG, James P GREENAN & James M BROWN (2011). Elements related to teaching pilots aeronautical decision making. Collegiate Aviation Review, 2011, volume 29, number 1, pages 10-27.
2. ELLIS Paul D (2010). The essential guide to effect sizes. Cambridge University Press (UK), 2010. [ISBN 9780521142465]
3. HENDERSON Isaac L & Jose D PEREZGONZALEZ (2010). Student pilots' perception of the effects of consuming energy drinks. Knowledge (ISSN 2324-1624), 2013, pages 121-123.] [DOI]
4. ROBINSON Melissa & Jose D PEREZGONZALEZ [eds] (2012). Judgements of likelihood under hypoxic conditions (descriptive statistics). Journal of Knowledge Advancement & Integration (ISSN 1177-4576), 2012, pages 271-274.
+++ Notes +++
5. Effect sizes, d, calculated using the average of Hedges's weighted and pooled standard deviation for each pair of items (as described in Ellis, 20102).
6. Modified interpretation of Cohen's 'd': 0.5 = small difference, 0.8 = medium difference, 1.1 = large difference (see reasoning in, for example, Henderson & Perezgonzalez, 20103 or Robinson & Perezgonzalez [eds], 20124).

Authors / Editors


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