The Drill Pad
Instructional Resource Library



Skillful instructors have no single set of techniques they follow. Instead, they select the techniques most suited to the learning objectives, their own personality, and the nature of the subject materials. Before selecting the most appropriate method of instruction, you must have thorough understanding of the various tools available to support the subject matter.



The lecture is defined as the method of instruction in which the instructor has full responsibility for presenting facts and principles orally. Lectures may be formal or informal.

  • Formal Lectures: The formal lecture method is primarily used when presenting information to large groups. Communication is virtually a one way communication from instructor to students. Student participation is severely limited.
  • Informal Lectures: The informal lecture includes active student participation. Learning is best achieved if students participate actively in a relaxed atmosphere, therefore, the informal lecture is encouraged over the formal. Active student participation can be achieved through the use of questions and is an effective two-way communication process.

Advantages of Lecture Method

The lecture method provides for the effective use of time and manpower in that the instructor can present many ideas to a large group in a relatively short period of time. Also, the lecture method can be used to supplement other methods of instruction.

Disadvantages of Lecture Method

The lecture method limits the amount of student participation. A lecture is inadequate for teaching hands-on skills and it is not an effective method for maintaining student interest.


First, you must become familiar with your subject. Your lesson plan is a guide for you to use during your presentation. Review it prior to your teaching session and ensure you thoroughly understand it. If corrections or additions have been published since you last taught the lesson, check to see that they have been posted. Any training aids that you plan to use should be check to ensure that they are readily available and in good condition.

Second, consider the teaching area. Do not assume that the classroom or dayroom in a dormitory is the only place you can teach. If it is pleasant outside you may want to move your class to the outdoors. Try to provide a comfortable, non-distracting learning environment. Ensure you have enough time to complete your lessons, and if not, look for a logical breaking point.

Finally, take into consideration the mental and physical state of your trainees. Hunger or fatigue can easily take precedence over anything you want your trainees to learn. Consider also that should you reprimand your flight for an unsatisfactory dormitory inspection and then expect them to concentrate while you teach, their thoughts are likely still to be on the unsatisfactory dorm. Do not waste time trying to teach if you do not have the attention of your trainees.


Besides the obvious requirements of voice, platform mannerisms, sincerity, eye contact, and other communicative skills, the lecture, because of its unique instructor responsibilities, requires skillful choice of support material. The strength or weakness of your lesson depends on your teaching effectiveness. There are a number of techniques you can use to increase your effectiveness. The following types of verbal support will make the lesson more interesting and understandable.

A specific instance is a short example.

An extended illustration is a single, rather lengthy and detailed example. A story type illustration. An extended illustration does not have to be true or factual; it serves a useful purpose if it creates interest and adds variety.

A comparison is used to bridge the known and the unknown. An effective instructor can clarify a new subject idea, or situation by showing how it resembles a familiar subject. Comparison may be factual or imaginary. An example of an imaginary comparison is called an analogy. An analogy uses a story or incident with a point that parallels the point that the communicator wants to make. The analogy does not prove a point, but helps to dramatize it.

Statistics can be used to clarify or amplify a point, but must be used sparingly and wisely. They should be in terms that are easily understood, and unless there is good reason for giving exact statistical figures, round numbers should be used. Honesty with a statistic is essential.

Testimonies can give the trainee an example of a real life situation. The testimony can relate
trainees' thoughts or ideas with what actually happened with the instructor.

In addition to verbal support, visual aids can be used to help clarify and illustrate ideas. Many things are difficult to explain with word alone. Try finding a location in a strange city with only oral directions. Remember, any visual aids used must be in good condition and correct. An outdated map is more hindrance than help. Instructors may find the use of charts, graphs, pictures, slides, and models not only reinforces their explanation or key points, but also decreases the necessary explanation time, and increase the trainee's understanding of the subject. There are three types of visual aids:
oral, visual, and yourself. Oral visual aids are examples of something that the trainee can identify with at that present moment. For example, their dormitory, their area where they sleep, etc. Visual aids (such as slides, videos, Powerpoint, etc.) are aids shown to someone during the lecture. The third type is you. One visual aid that many instructors fail to use effectively is themselves.


Good questions are essential to effective communication between you and your flight. Instructors who lack the skill to effectively question their cadet trainees create disinterest and boredom on the part of the trainee. They also ignore a fine opportunity to open communication lines for determining the effectiveness of the lesson. Good questions expand on central thoughts, develops the subject, and not on minor, nice-to-know points. Let us look at some rules for asking questions.

  1. Ask questions of the entire class to promote thinking in all trainees and get them involved.

  2. Distribute questions at random. Do not always ask the same trainees or those sitting in a particular area.

  3. Allow enough time for the trainee to think about and give an answer. Do not waste time waiting if the trainee clearly does not know the answer, but do not cut the trainee off before ample time is given for the complete though process or answer period.

  4. Begin questions with the words that require thoughtful answers, such as, "Why, When, How, What," etc. Stay away from questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no. This will help stimulate and even guide students thinking.

  5. Acknowledge all answers to ensure incorrect or vague answers are clarified.

  6. Avoid frequent group or choral responses. This method provides answers that are often unintelligible and errors that are hard to pick up.

  7. Do not waste time "pumping" a trainee. If the trainee does not know the answer, either offer an explanation or ask the question of another trainee.

  8. Don't use catch or trick questions. Students will not participate and you could possibly lose them if they feel humiliated.



  • Rhetorical: This type of question is effective as an attention getter at the beginning of the lesson or to maintain interest throughout. It normally does not require an answer from the trainee, but the instructor may answer it if desired.
  • Overhead: This type of question is NOT directed at any particular individual, but is asked of the entire class . . . "over their heads." ASK - PAUSE - CALL. The ask-pause-call technique used in asking overhead questions allows every trainee in the class to profit from the thinking involved in the formulation of an answer. The overhead questioning technique is encouraged because your lead-off questions will start discussions.
  • Direct: A direct question is asked of one person whom you call by name BEFORE asking the question. CALL - ASK - PAUSE for the answer. Direct questions are especially effective when you suspect an individual's attention is wandering.
  • Relay: The relay technique places the instructor in the position of a moderator. The instructor accepts a question from a trainee, and then turns it over to another trainee to answer. This technique is very effective in promoting trainee participation and class discussion. Before doing this, bear in mind that you must be able to answer the question.
  • Reverse: This type of question involves an instructor who accepts a question from a trainee, rewords it or adds an additional statement, and then turns it over to the SAME TRAINEE who asked the original question. It "reverses" and goes back to the server. For example: "Trainee Smith, you asked me why we have to keep a list of serial numbers of our money. If I took your money and put it in my wallet, how would you know the money was really yours and not mine?" Once again, you must ensure you know the answer.


Ensure all answers have been given and offer an outlet to clarify questions that may occur at a later date. Ask for additional questions. Some trainees may have questions, but are too hesitant to raise their hands to ask while you are talking. Finally, close on a positive note. It give your trainees encouragement, expresses confidence in their abilities, and motivates them.


The demonstration method of instruction provides a "clear picture" of a task that must be learned.

The performance method of instruction is bases on the principle that one learns best by doing. Trainees learn physical or mental skills by performing these skills under supervision. An individual learns to write by writing, to swim by swimming, and to drive by driving. This method may be used to teach something as simple as folding a wash cloth or a more complex task such as performing a drill movement. This show-and-tell method has certain advantages, as well as disadvantages, over the lecture method.

Advantages of the Demonstration/Performance Method

Appeals to More than One Sense. Two of the greatest gifts of communication are the senses of sight and hearing. The sense of sight accounts for approximately 75 percent of what we absorb mentally and hearing accounts for 13 percent. The demonstration method makes explanations concrete by showing visually what the instructor is saying. The trainee sees the skill being performed and hears the explanation at the same time. This allows the trainee to relate the principles and theories to a practical situation.

Sets the Standards of Performance. Your demonstration set the standard of performance expected of the trainee. Trainees have the tendency and desire to imitate you, therefore, it is essential that you have a thorough knowledge of the skill so you can demonstrate it without hesitation or error. Also since the members of your flight will imitate your methods and techniques, there will be a reduction in trainee error in their performance.

Emphasizes Proper Sequence. The procedures for a motor skill are usually a series of steps that must be accomplished in a particular order. An important step in acquiring a new skill is learning the required steps in proper sequence. The demonstration method is very effective in identifying the precise steps and fixing the exact sequence.

Provides for Individual Guidance and Evaluation. It is more student-centered and results in a higher level of student participation and involvement than any other method of instruction.

Permits Reinforcement. Knowledge acquired through a lecture can be made more meaningful through a demonstration, and the highest level of understanding is achieved and reinforced through actual performance of the task.

Disadvantages of the Demonstration/Performance Method

Requires a High Degree of Instructor Skill. Your demonstration must be flawless and made to appear easy so that all trainees will be confident of their ability to perform in a similar manner. There may be times when you have to perform the demonstration from a position other than normal, that is, standing behind your equipment. This may require many hours of practice on your part before you are able to give a flawless lesson. Remember, your demonstration sets the standard.

Restricted to Small Groups. Remember, the effectiveness of your presentation depends on the student being able to see what you are working on. This requires arrangement of trainees and equipment. When you are teaching a flight of trainees, this will require placing them in proper positions that allow an unobstructed view. The size of equipment, whether small or large, and the materials used is a big factor. For example, the instructor could not get an airplane into a dayroom due to its size and the fact it is too expensive for use.

Time Consuming. This method consumes more time than the lecture method because of the demonstration time and the practice time the trainees must be given if they are going to reach the skill level desired.

Requires Higher Instructor/student Ratio. The number of instructors assigned to a class should be increased when individual personal attention is to be provided for trainees during their performance. If this is not possible, the flight will be divided into small groups for adequate evaluation of performance.

Techniques for Demonstration/Performance

There are certain techniques that you should use to make this method effective. Let us look at some of them.

  1. To get maximum benefit from the demonstration, use the actual equipment whenever it is practical. The trainees get to see the process performed on the actual equipment they will be using. Check your equipment prior to demonstration to discover that you do not have everything you need or that your equipment does not function properly. The greatest impact, however, is on the learning environment of the trainees.

  2. Use the WHOLE-PART-WHOLE concept. That is, show them what the finished product looks like then break it down into small parts, thus giving a step-by-step detailed explanation of how to achieve the task in logical sequence. Now put it all back together and, again, let them see the finished product.

  3. Evaluate procedures. While the trainees are performing, evaluate their procedures as well as the end product. The trainees must use the procedures and steps you taught in the demonstration. This is the standard you have set for attainment, so evaluate the performance in terms of time, quantity, and quality.

  4. Provide instruction and guidance only as required. Trainees should be allowed to work on their own as much as possible without unnecessary interruption, interference or assistance. Interrupting the trainee while he or she is working or standing too close can cause a loss in concentration. Even if the trainee is hesitant or pauses, leave him or her alone as long as the performance is correct. Proficiency comes with time. Do not hesitate, however, to interrupt if you see mistakes being made.

  5. Consider using trainee assistance. The need for a higher instructor/trainee ratio during the performance may be met by designating advanced trainees as instructor assistants. This technique serves several purposes. It challenges the better trainees and provides additional assistance for trainees who require more help. Exercise caution when using this technique, since it is essential that the trainee assistant be completely knowledgeable and capable.

  6. Remember this, it is still your responsibility to critique each trainee's performance. Constructively critique the trainee's performance to point out problem areas as well as items being completed satisfactorily.


Using good lecture techniques can make your presentations much more effective and worthwhile. Prepare your lessons by making all materials and equipment you plan to use readily available and in good condition. Carefully select the time and place you plan to present your lesson, taking into consideration outside distractions and the mental state as well as the physical state of your trainees. Practice good communications skills and questioning techniques, answering all questions before closing your lesson and leaving an open door for answers to questions that may come up at a later date.