Some driving instructors could think that their only role is to train someone to pass a driving test. The reasons that they may think that way could be:
If your clients knew that statistically they only have at best a 50/50 chance of passing their driving test each time they take the test, how would this change their perception? What do they think affects their chances of passing? Do they know the statistics of crashes for new drivers?
If they knew that they are around four times more likely to crash than the average driver, what would they want their driving ability to be like once they have passed their test?
What would be the consequences to them of having a crash? You could try getting them to mind map this question, making them aware of:
Coaching and client-centred learning techniques help you challenge the type of statements that learner drivers might make.
If you want to learn more about using coaching to help raise awareness amongst your clients, then consider booking one of our specialised courses to help aCCeLerate your skills in coaching for driver development. You can find one of our short 2 day aCCeLerate coaching courses by following this link. Alternatively, book yourself on our BTEC Level 4 in Coaching for Driver Development.
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Drivers will be encouraged to take the ‘number plate test’ - a quick and easy way to check they meet the minimum eyesight requirements for driving. By law, all drivers must meet the minimum eyesight standards at all times when driving - this includes being able to read a number plate from 20 metres.
The campaign is reminding the public that they can easily check their eyesight by taking the 20 metres test and is pointing out some ways to quickly identify 20 metres at the roadside. It is advising that 5 car lengths or 8 parking bays can be an easy way to measure the distance.
The campaign is encouraging anyone with concerns about their eyesight to visit their optician or optometrist for an eye test.
Dr Wyn Parry, DVLA’s Senior Doctor, said:
The number plate test is a simple and effective way for people to check their eyesight meets the required standards for driving. The easiest and quickest way to do this is to work out what 20 metres looks like at the roadside - this is typically about the length of 5 cars parked next to each other - and then test yourself on whether you can clearly read the number plate. It’s an easy check to perform any time of day at the roadside and takes just a couple of seconds.
Having good eyesight is essential for safe driving, so it’s really important for drivers to have regular eye tests. Eyesight can naturally deteriorate over time so anyone concerned about their eyesight should visit their optician - don’t wait for your next check-up.
Notes to editors
This article will continue to look at goal-focused feedback and the importance of this for the individual’s growth, development and learning; as opposed to fault-focused feedback, which serves little purpose even in terms of preparing someone for the test (whether L test, Part 3, Standards Check or ORDIT).
Let’s take a look at the following structure and consider how it might help us stick with goal-focused feedback: Assessment, Feedback, Development.
Ensure that a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed) goal is set first so that you know what you are assessing. In this respect the Goal should be linked to the purpose of the assessment and needn’t be finalised until after the assessment. Avoid talking about ‘having a drive and seeing what is thrown up’ because this is likely to take you down the route of fault-focused feedback.
Set up the assessment so that the customer can drive for at least a few minutes. This means that you will need to agree the route you are going to be driving on and the level of support the customer will need during the assessment. For example, if you are going to look at junctions, agree a five to ten-minute route where the pupil has to deal with emerging from junctions. The aim of the assessment is to get around the route so you will need to manage the risk but you shouldn’t deal with any faults.
Once the drive is concluded, pull up at the side of the road and start the feedback by referring to the Goal that was agreed at the start of the assessment. If the customer wants to start talking about the faults, ask them to hang fire and focus first of all on the positives. Diving straight into the negatives is not effective for someone’s learning but it is often the way that people will want do things because of their previous experience. It is your job to steer them clear of this. The conversation might go like this:
Q: What went well during that drive dealing with junctions?
A: I was able to put the routine into practice.
Q: Tell me more about this.
A: I was trying to think through MSPSL and found it helped me as I approached the junctions. This then gave me more time to plan and then look for a safe gap.
Q: Okay. What else went well?
A: I was thinking about whether the junction was open or closed and trying to assess my visibility into the new road.
Q: Anything else that you were really pleased with?
A: My speed on the approach.
Q: What was it about this that you were pleased with?
A: I stopped in good time.
Of course, some customers will not respond as well as in this example but it reinforces their learning if you are able to highlight their strengths. So, if they say, ‘I don’t know’, you could be specific and say, ‘What about the routine – how did that go?’.
Once you have exhausted the positives, move onto the weaknesses by asking, ‘What didn’t go so well?’ To which the customer might reply, ‘Well, I keep stopping at the end of the road and then realising that I could have gone.’
On the other hand, the customer may not give you an answer and if this is the case, you could ask, ‘What would you do differently next time?’ or ‘What do you want to improve next time?’
The idea is that the whole of the feedback session is client-centred, which means that you are drawing the information out of the customer and avoiding having any input yourself.
This is where you agree an action plan for development – where does the customer need to go from here to achieve their goal? You might need to re-define the goal at this point and again agree the route and the level of support.
You might decide to have some focused development on a specific area. For example, helping the pupil emerge using a ‘rolling first gear’ so that they can keep the car moving if it is safe to do so.
You could demonstrate how to approach a junction, slip into first gear, find the biting point and creep up to the give-way line whilst looking. You could do this in silence just asking the pupil to watch; or you could talk yourself through as you are doing this. Remember, to keep the demonstration focused on the point – rolling first gear emerges – and don’t bring anything else into it. Then let the pupil have a go and, again, just focus on the emerges – it really doesn’t matter what else occurs so long as you keep the car safe.
Finally, the pupil should be able to go around the whole circuit again, using rolling first gear emerges where necessary.
The most important part of this process – Assessment, Feedback, Development – is that you reflect and evaluate how YOU got on. Consider, what did you do well? What did you not do so well? What would you do to improve? And then come up with an Action Plan for your development.
Written by Susan McCormack
I feel that the feedback we use on a day-to-day basis tends to be ‘fault-focused’ and negative and this is not just to do with teaching people to drive, it happens all the time. The only occasions we offer someone feedback is when we want to criticise them and then we try to wrap it up in a praise sandwich, which leaves the receiver feeling demoralised and demotivated. It would often have been better to say nothing at all.
The point of feedback is to help the other person develop their critical-thinking and self-evaluation skills. In this respect, feedback is a coaching skill, where coaching raises awareness and builds responsibility.
I have written about this a lot – but I think it is really important to focus on these two phrases to develop an understanding of the point of coaching. ‘Raising awareness’ means facilitating the person’s self-awareness of how their thoughts and feelings affect and motivate their behaviour so that they can learn to manage their thoughts and feelings more effectively to produce positive, social interactions. ‘Building responsibility’ follows from raised self-awareness, where we take ownership of the interactions and communications we have with others to produce positive outcomes. Both of these things combine in emotional intelligence.
The next point I want to make is that coaching is based on the belief that learning comes from within. This is a belief about how learning takes place. We used to believe that learning took place through a transfer of knowledge and information from the ‘expert’ to the ‘learner’. This is an old-fashioned and out of date belief.
We now know so much more about how the brain works and the importance of being able to learn through experimentation, followed by reflection and further practice. It is our job to facilitate this process with the feedback we use – not just with our customers but in our everyday lives. To achieve this, we must have an equal, non-judgemental relationship with our customers so that we can help raise their awareness of how their thoughts and feelings motivate their behaviour with questions like, ‘How did that make you feel?’ ‘What thoughts were going through your head then?’
We cannot do this in a hierarchical relationship because that would pre-suppose that we know how they think and how they feel, when we don’t. The equal relationship is vital here precisely because we have no idea how they think or feel – and possibly, they do not either, so we need to stimulate these kind of reflective processes in them.
We need to recognise that we interfere with people’s self-development when we offer our opinion.
Our aim should be ‘goal-focused’ feedback rather than ‘fault-focused’ feedback. Client-centred learning techniques and coaching skills encourage goal-focused feedback.
Let’s take a look at two examples:
‘Okay, how do you think that went?’
‘Yeah, okay, I think …’
‘Yep, not bad … quite good actually. However, there are a couple of areas where you need to focus attention. Your speed was too high as you steered back and you weren’t looking in the right places – you didn’t notice that car coming did you? Also, you have ended up too far away from the kerb. But, overall, not a bad attempt. Let’s have another go and I’ll remind you with the speed and the observations.’
This example is a praise sandwich. The purpose of the feedback is for the ‘expert’ instructor to develop the pupil by pointing out their mistakes, in order to produce a ‘test-ready’ manoeuvre. The focus is on behaviour with no allusion to thoughts and feelings and no attempt to raise the pupil’s self-awareness of their strengths and weaknesses; or build their self-responsibility.
‘Okay, remind me what your goal was with this manoeuvre?’
‘Err, I wanted to get the car in close to the kerb.’
‘Shall we get out of the car and have a look so that you can tell me whether you achieved your goal?’
‘It looks too far away to me. What do you think?’
‘If you were parking your car to go and see a friend, would you be happy to leave it this distance from the kerb?’
‘No, someone might hit it because it is sticking out too much.’
‘Okay, so how will you get the car closer to the kerb next time? Talk me through what you did and what you would change.’
‘Let’s have another go. Remember your goal of getting close to the kerb and we’ve agreed that you want to practise this without any help from me. As before, I will let you concentrate on the goal and manage the risk by doing the observations for you. Also, if I feel you are going a little fast, I will prompt you to slow down. How does that sound?’
Goal-focused feedback is much more rewarding because it involves the pupil in the process and encourages them to work things out for themselves. They can make mistakes and learn from these in their own way because you are managing the risk and they are focusing on the goal.
In my last email I looked at listening and to put listening into practice you often will be asking questions. Your ability to ask questions, that reveal information that is of maximum benefit to your client, is an essential coaching skill.
It is important to actively listen so that the next question you ask will be as a result of your listening. If you already know what the next question is, you are not listening! Your questions should be phrased in such a way that they meet the client's perspective - using their language can help when you frame your questions and enable you to communicate more effectively. As an example, If a client says something like 'Do you see what I mean?', you could reply with 'Yes I get the picture.'
Your questions should at times be challenging and may make the client rethink their assumptions so they can discover views outside their own mindset. Questions can also be a call to action and help the client commit to what they are preparing to do. For example, 'When will you be able to complete your theory test? If they respond, 'Next week' you might ask 'Is that realistic? What do you need to do to succeed? Tell me what you are going to do for this to happen?'
Effective questions are open questions that you, the coach, do not know the answer to. Questions should help the client provide greater clarity about what they are trying to achieve and also create new learning opportunities. For example, 'Explain to me how you would achieve this? or 'Can you think of another way that you will be able to do this?'
Coaching questions are often forward-focused and work towards what the client desires, they avoid getting the client to justify themselves or look backwards upon past behaviours. Coaching questions engage the client fully in the learning process.
In the next email I will look at how the coach directly communicates using clear and articulate language.
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From 1 May 2018, the DVSA will be changing the way 78 theory test questions are worded, to make them more accessible to everyone. Their statement is below and you can find links to their websites at the bottom of the blog.
We've worked with the British Dyslexia Association and the British Deaf Association to develop the changes. We trialled the changes with over 7,000 candidates, who found the revised questions easier to understand.
Main changes to the questions
We've rephrased all of the ‘continuation’ questions in the test. This type of question asks the candidate to choose an answer from a list, to complete a sentence. We're changing the wording so that the candidate has to pick a statement to answer the question instead.
We've also removed long and complicated words, with shorter simpler words. This includes replacing words like 'increased' and 'decreased' with 'bigger' and 'smaller'.
You can find more information on helping candidates with learning difficulties take their theory test on GOV.UK or Safe Driving for Life.
From Monday 4 June 2018, learner drivers will be able to take driving lessons on motorways in England, Scotland and Wales.
This will help to make sure more drivers know how to use motorways safely.
How the change will work Learner drivers will need to be:
It will be up to the driving instructor to decide when the learner driver is competent enough for them.
How the change will workLearner drivers will need to be:
Until the law changes, it’s still illegal for a learner driver to drive on a motorway.
The change only applies to learner drivers of cars. Learner motorcyclists won’t be allowed on motorways.
Trainee driving instructors won’t be allowed to take learner drivers on the motorway.
Motorway driving isn’t being introduced to the driving test as part of this change.
Making sure road users are ready for the changeThe change is being well-publicised so that:
Driving near learner drivers on the motorwayAs with any vehicle on the motorway, keep a safe distance from a learner driver in front of you. Increase the gap on wet or icy roads, or in fog.
You should always be patient with learner drivers. They may not be so skilful at anticipating and responding to events.
Driving instructor vehicles and trainingDriving instructors can decide if they want to use a driving school rooftop box during motorway lessons, based on its instructions.
The car will need to display L plates on the front and rear if the rooftop box is removed.
Preparing drivers for a lifetime of safe drivingThe changes are being made to allow learner drivers to:
DVSA National Driving Syllabus, Unit 4: Drive safely and efficiently
Training someone to pass a driving test requires making sure the client can drive safely and efficiently, which means training your client to a higher standard than that of the driving test.
Your client must be able to interact appropriately with other road users in varying road and traffic conditions. This requires decision making, which should start for your client from day one of their driving lessons. We all know the answer to 'What do you want to do today?' is often, 'I don't know, you tell me, you're the driving instructor'. At this point the client abdicates responsibility and refuses to make a simple decision and yet it is imperative we help our clients make decisions for themselves. At first it can be very simple: 'Where would you choose to stop?' followed with 'What are your reasons for choosing this place?'
You client must be able to minimise risk when driving in varying road and traffic conditions; they must understand that avoidability is extremely important rather than, 'It's my right of way regardless of the situation because the guidelines say it is.' Being able to drive defensively means also being able to take a space with acceleration when necessary as well as knowing when to hold back. Your clients need to be able to work out the consequences of their actions even in a split second - driving is often like a fast-moving game of chess with all the players moving simultaneously.
If the clients gain practice and experience of working out solutions for themselves it speeds up their decision making processes. This is why it is so important that we ADIs understand when to step in to minimise the risk and when to wait and allow our clients to make their own decisions. We can use various different exercises to help our clients make decisions. It doesn't mean they always have to be driving to make those decisions - it is something they can practise from the passenger seat either with you on lessons or between lessons.
It is also important that your client knows how to behave appropriately if there is an incident. Road rage is a common theme amongst drivers and being able to control our thoughts and feelings and behave in an adult way is crucial. We ADIs must be careful that our private thoughts about other road users do not spill over into our lessons. Demonstrating how to remain calm and concentrated when other drivers are being aggressive is essential to being able to drive safely.
We also need them to know what to do in case of a breakdown or even a crash. Including these scenarios in your driving lessons will improve your driving syllabus and keep you away from test based training but more importantly produce a safe and responsible driver that will actually find the test easy because they have reached a far higher standard.
If you are interested in thinking 'outside of the box' and not just teaching to pass a test you may find our courses and products helpful.
This was the fourth in a series of short articles that have been written based on the DVSA Driver training syllabus. You can find more information here.