As Gitlin and Smyth (1989) comment: 'Evaluation' from its Latin origin meaning ‘to strengthen’ or 'to empower' I recently wrote three short articles about the psychomotor, cognitive and affective domains.
This fourth article is about using evaluation to bring the learning together. As driving instructors, part of our job is to work with our clients' strengths so as to help them overcome their weaknesses and to empower them to take full responsibility for their learning. As I discovered, the Latin origin of 'evaluation' is so very apt because our role is to help our learners discover self-evaluation techniques for themselves that will serve them well in a post-test environment. The reason this is so important is that when they pass they will have hopefully only have near-misses and then will be able to work out the reasons behind what has happened and take preventative measures so as to avoid something similar happening again.
Evaluation is about your learner making judgments about situations that have happened - both good and bad - and then helping them to have a structure to work through that process. The ability to reflect and problem-solve is very useful to the newly qualified driver. Self-evaluation helps the learner identify a way forward for themselves.
Evaluation is also a way of effecting behavioural change and when we witness a positive change in behaviour - such as adjusting to the correct speed for the road and traffic conditions - we know that learning is taking place. The process of self-evaluation often occurs through a conversation between the learner and the instructor, where the instructor takes on the role of a facilitator and uses the process as a means of empowering the learner. What is happening in these conversations could be described as constructive criticism where the learner is taking ownership of the process and working it through for themselves. This could literally be a lifesaver once they have passed their test and they are on their own in the big wide world.
Evaluation allows the learner to look at the bigger picture - they are gathering information about what has been happening in their last training exercise, so they can describe the problem and put that situation into context. This will enable them, during their lessons with you, to transfer what has just happened into experiences they may have in the future. Evaluation is a powerful form of reflection, which allows you to look at areas of success and also any areas of development. It helps us plan a way forward and we can than judge the effectiveness and outcomes of the training. This leads to finding solutions to problems.
The purpose of evaluation, as Everitt et al (1992) is to reflect critically on the effectiveness of personal and professional practice. It is to contribute to the development of ‘good’ rather than ‘correct’ practice.
In my next article I will look at questions that can be used to help you facilitate the evaluation process by using a coaching conversation. If you are interested in learning how coaching helps you to facilitate your clients' development of critical thinking skills so they become safer drivers - and you haven't yet taken the plunge - then enrol on our BTEC Level 4 Professional Award in Coaching for Driver Development.