12: Levels of Instruction – Guided/Prompted/Independent

Warning – this unit was last revised in 2007

Unit 12: Levels of Instruction – Guided/Prompted/Independent.

Research Material:
The Driving Instructor’s Handbook (p99)

“Relates to the match (or lack of it) between the level of instruction and the level of ability of the pupil. This will normally match the grade given as it would be very difficult to explain why it would not be the case.” – From the examiner’s marking guidance (ADI1).

Your use of instruction, and the level at which you pitch it is of huge importance – quite literally it could mean your life or death, and it will make a big difference to how well your customers progress.

Over instruction will slow the learning process, but under instructing can leave you open to potential dangers. During the part 3 exam (the instructional ability examination) phase 1 (beginners and novices) is often under instructed, and phase 2 (experienced learners and full licence holders) is often over instructed. A thorough understanding of how to pitch instruction, depending on your customer is the basis of good instruction.

Simply put, this is telling someone exactly what to do – guiding them through the process. This is used under 2 distinct circumstances

  • Teaching someone how to do something they have never done before.
  • This is what you will do for example during your phase 1 teaching. Once you have completed your briefing, you will then guide them through the process, eg: “Set the as to 2000 revs, hold that foot still, then gradually bring your clutch up until you hear the engine revs dip, then hold both feet still” – would be your guided instructions for someone to find the bite point.

  • Helping someone to complete an action under stressful or dangerous circumstances.
  • This can be necessary when a student has been pushed out of their comfort zone. It is easy for them to forget exactly how to set off smoothly at a give way, when there is a truck beeping from behind them. You may need to use guided instruction exactly the same as above to prevent stalling or dangerously fast moving off.

    This is where you will remind them of the key points of what they are about to do, once they have proved under guidance that they can perform the task.

    Using the same example as above, a prompt could be “remember to hold your feet still when you find the bite point”. This gives them a reminder of what you have been working on, and helps them with the part of the action which you feel they may forget.

    If a student has been stalling, the prompt would be “remember to add enough gas when you find your bite point”.

    The art of the prompt is to give them enough information that they can perform the task, while leaving out enough information to make them feel as though they are progressing. Prompts should become less specific and more questioning as the student becomes better at their task.

    As skill improves a prompt may not contain any specific action, for example “on this hill, how can we avoid rolling back when we release the handbrake?” and eventually “is there a chance we could roll back here?” or “are we on a hill?”.

    This is the goal we aim for. To see a customer approach an uphill Give Way, and know that they will be able to find the bite in first, observe and pull smoothly and safely away if it is clear is a nice moment! However, remember that in between lessons things can be forgotten, confidence can lead to recklessness and brains under pressure don’t always work so well. Never be afraid to swing back to prompted if you notice problems creeping in.

    Unfortunately, even drivers approaching test standard will put you in dangerous situations sometimes, so be prepared under these circumstances to swing your instruction straight back to guided. Simple, clear firm guided instruction should be able to get you out of most situations without any need for use of the dual controls.

    Discussion Points:
    How to determine where to start – The Recap
    Swinging back from independent to guided or prompted
    Your most important dual control – concise guidance

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