Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




There are many different theories on how people learn, and by finding the preferred learning style of college aviation students it could lead to better training programs. By breaking down the learning cycle and identifying the predominant learning styles, it is possible to see what types of extra training aids could be beneficial to students, both in the classroom and at the airport. This study was designed to answer the following two research questions: 1) To what extent are flight observations beneficial to initial flight students? 2) Does it matter in regard to perceived benefit what type of flight lessons the student observes? If so, which specific flight lessons should be designated as suitable for student observation flights? There were three components to this study: a student questionnaire, a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) questionnaire, and flight records data. The sample size for the student questionnaire was 60 students, and the sample for the CFI questionnaire was 138 instructors. Literature regarding collegiate aviation students was very limited. However, there was much literature available about college learning and motivation. College aviation students need to move away from the type of learning that they did throughout most of high school into more of a self-motivated adult style learning. They need to take the initiative and responsibility to seek new knowledge to better themselves as a whole and recognize that it will benefit them in the long run. Finding this motivation to learn in a different manner at a time when most students have just moved away from home and are dealing with many other changes in their lives could be a very difficult challenge for some. Data indicated that 59 of the 60 students were enrolled in an aviation related major. Twenty-four students felt the observations made “no difference” in their training. One finding indicated that there was a significant difference (F=3.52, P=.01) between the five levels of observer involvement and how beneficial the observer thought the flight observations were. The more involved the students were during their observation flights, the more beneficial they felt observing was (r =.442, P<.001). Another finding indicated that there was a significant difference in the total number of hours it takes to receive a private pilot certificate between similar semesters (Spring 2002 versus Spring 2003, Summer 2002 versus Summer 2003, Fall 2001 versus Fall 2002) for those students who were required to observe no flights and those whom observed two or four flights. The general trend in the number of hours to receive a private pilot certificate was decreasing.