Higher-Order instruction by professional driving instructors: a naturalistic pilot study
Purpose: Whilst instructors must meet specific qualification competencies, little is known regarding how competencies are operationalised during instruction. Of particular importance is higher-order instruction, in which key learnings specific to driving events are transferred more generally to both current and future driving. Recent research examining in-vehicle instruction to learners by parents revealed infrequent (6%) use of higher-order instruction (Goodwin et al., 2014), but no studies have examined the extent to which higher order instruction is provided by professional driving instructors. The aim of this pilot study was to explore the feasibility of replicating the Goodwin et al study with professional instructors and to report preliminary findings. Methods: Learner lessons taught by six professional instructors over a one-week period were video-recorded. One camera captured verbal and non-verbal in-cabin communications between the instructor and learner; one camera recorded the driving scene. Professional instruction, including learner-initiated interactions, was coded for 10 lessons (5 male learners) according to thematic content. Results: The study was successfully conducted with minor technical difficulties able to be overcome. The instructor’s verbal driving-related communication consisted of five themes: introductory instruction (eg., adjusting seat; 26%); navigation (12.5%); warnings (15%); positive feedback (10.5%); and higher-order instruction (35%), with approximately 44% of the identified higher-order instruction given during lessons with male learners (1% remainder: negative comments). Conclusions and Implications: This pilot study provides support for a larger investigation of in-vehicle instruction to learners by professional instructors and suggests they might provide more higher-order instruction than parents. Research exploring the nature of professional and nonprofessional driving instruction alike is an important avenue for identifying ways that interventions can be improved or developed to increase novice driver safety.