Adult Learning Theory As Applied By NCOs

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” – Albert Einstein

For Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures Thursday, we are talking about how to make our NCO’s and Team leaders more proficient at explaining tasks to their Paratroopers through the four models of adult learning theory, and six principles of adult learning. The reference for this discussion is the Draft Division Standard Airborne Small Arms Instructor Course Adult learning theory class.

For us to expect our Paratroopers to be proficient with their weapons, course materials have to be presented to them in a fashion that makes sense to them. NCO’s need to be aware that the method that they learn may not be the best for all their Paratroopers. We will start with the theory of metacognition.

Learning is not a spectator sport. The more actively engaged the learner is, the more learning takes place. Different instructional methodologies have higher rates of retention.
Metacognition refers to learners’ automatic awareness of their own knowledge and their ability to understand, control, and manipulate their own cognitive processes. This means you should implement active learning strategies in your training. The more actively engaged the learners are, the more learning takes place. Keep in mind that different instructional methods have higher rates of retention.

There are three distinct learning styles, each with its own associated needs: They are visual, auditory, and kinesthetic.

Visual Learners learn by seeing or reading. They must see or read it themselves to maximize their potential to understand and retain the information. Auditory Learners learn by hearing. Their potential to understand and retain the information is optimized by being presented with lecture-style training. Kinesthetic Learners learn best by doing tasks. Picture three illustrates these learning styles. The preferred training technique used in the Army is a mixture of the three.

Picture three illustrates the cone of learning. This shows us how to present material for our Paratroopers to comprehend and learn what we are teaching. As you can see, saying and doing it makes it more likely for the material to be retained by the Paratrooper. The best method for showing this is to use the EDIP method.

EDIP stands for Explain, Demonstrate, Imitate, and Practice. Explaining can be done by a talk through. Demonstrating is done then with a hands-on demonstration. Imitating is having students complete task with talk-through and observation by instructors and assistant instructors. Then the final portion is practice. Have the Paratroopers complete repetitions of action under the supervision of the instructor and as they progress, start changing the variables through interleaving to ensure that the material is retained.

NCO’s need to work on training their Paratroopers. I hear it every day: ‘we don’t have enough time to train our Paratroopers.’ This is usually coming from the platoon that is out on the range either sleeping or busy playing on the phone. If you are out on the range, you take advantage of that time away from the distractions to teach your Paratroopers how to use their weapons. If you are in the company waiting around for the final formation, and you know you have an hour before it happens, do a block of instruction with your Paratroopers. There is white space on the calendar, we just need to stop making excuses and make it a priority.

#NCObusiness #trainyourparatroopers

Raymond Miller

82nd Airborne Division Small Arms Master Gunner: primary weapons trainer, force modernization for individual weapons, and range liason for the 82nd.


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