20: Feedback/Encouragement – motivation and plateaus

Warning – this unit was last revised in 2007

Unit 20: Feedback/Encouragement – motivation and plateaus

Research Material:
The Driving Instructor’s Handbook – p103-106, p241-242
Coaching for Performance – Chapters 13 and 14.

“Providing feedback and encouragement to the pupil relating to their performance. Praise, confirmation, reinforcement for effort / progress / achievement. Correction / information when errors / faults occur. Encouraging the pupil is part of any teaching skill. The pupil needs to know when they have done something well. Feedback is key to providing the necessary level of instruction and has close links with the Core Competencies.” – From the examiner’s marking guidelines (ADI1)

You should by this time know why your customer is learning to drive – this is where you start to gear everything towards those ends. For example – if they have children, they will be able to do the school run without relying on relatives and neighbours; if they need to drive for a new job, encourage the development of skills and ensure they imagine their use in the work environment. If they know why they want to learn, this can be used to encourage them to push themselves forward into new and possibly frightening situations. We must acknowledge these fears, but allay them and use their motivations in a way which makes our customer want to face them.

Praise should be linked to positive actions, and should be given as soon as is possible once something has been achieved. However, praising for the sake of it is counter productive, and can lead to complacency. Make sure feedback is realistic, and specific. Body language and eye contact can make a huge difference to how we relate to people, and should be borne in mind when talking to a customer – make sure they believe you and what you say.

The plateau is the stage at which a learner will feel that they are not progressing – constantly repeating the same routes or manoeuvres can be demoralising. Explain that by acknowledging the plateau, and allowing more time and experience, things will become clear. Gaining a perspective on things can be done by changing the objective of the lesson, while bearing the problem area in mind. Taking the specific sticking point out of the equation, while continuing to teach the skills used can be useful. There are great benefits for someone to simply prove to themselves that they can drive from ‘A’ to ‘B’ – a journey which has some relation to them – a visit to a friend, a supermarket or a college for example can restore a sense of perspective and can encourage a customer who felt it was all going wrong.

Discussion Points:
Focussing on the customer’s motivation for learning to drive
Encouraging and nurturing an atmosphere of wanting to find out how new subjects work
Immediately praising independent decision making and actions
Realistic and specific praising & avoiding false praise
Body language and eye contact
Encouraging questions to enable accurate feedback
Dealing with Plateaus

Exercises:
Your trainer will role-play a customer near the end of the following exercises. Time is running out, and you need to summarise the lesson.
Turn in the Road
Crossroads
Use of the MSPSL system in response to hazards

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