Instructors need a practical guide to help them make sure the training is accomplished in a logical sequence and that all of the requirements are completed and properly documented. A well organized, comprehensive syllabus can fulfill these needs.

Syllabus Format and Content

The format and organization of the syllabus may vary, but it always should be in the form of an abstract or digest of the course of training. It should contain blocks of learning to be completed in the most efficient order. Since a syllabus is intended to be a summary of a course of training, it should be fairly brief, yet comprehensive enough to cover essential information. This information is usually presented in an outline format with lesson-by-lesson coverage. Some syllabi include tables to show recommended training time for each lesson, as well as the overall minimum time requirements. [Figure 1]

Training Syllabus, Planning Instructional Activity
Figure 1. This excerpt of a ground lesson shows a unit of ground instruction. In this example, neither the time nor the number of ground training periods to be devoted to the lesson is specified. The lesson should include three parts—objective, content, and completion standards

While many instructors may develop their own training syllabi, there are many well-designed commercial products that may be used. These are found in various training manuals, approved school syllabi, and other publications available from industry.

Syllabi developed for approved flight schools contain specific information that is outlined in 14 CFR parts 141 and 142. In contrast, syllabi designed for training in other than approved schools may not provide certain details such as enrollment prerequisites, planned completion times, and descriptions of checks and tests to measure learner accomplishments for each stage of training.

Since effective training relies on organized blocks of learning, all syllabi should stress well-defined objectives and standards for each lesson. Appropriate objectives and standards should be established for the overall course, the separate ground and flight segments, and for each stage of training. Other details may be added to a syllabus in order to explain how to use it and describe the pertinent training and reference materials. Examples of the training and reference materials include textbooks, websites, video, compact discs, exams, briefings, and instructional guides.

How to Use a Training Syllabus

Any practical training syllabus needs to be flexible and should be used primarily as a guide. Under 14 CFR part 61, the order of training can and should be altered to suit the progress of the learner and the demands of special circumstances. For example, previous experience or different rates of learning often require some alteration or repetition to fit individual learners. The syllabus should also be flexible enough so it can be adapted to weather variations, aircraft availability, and scheduling changes without disrupting the teaching process or completely suspending training.When departing from the order prescribed by the syllabus, however, it is the responsibility of the instructor to consider how the relationships of the blocks of learning are affected. For example, if the learner is having a difficult time with normal approaches and landings, the instructor might decide to delay adding short-field landings, which were originally to be the next step in his block of instruction. To prevent the learner from becoming frustrated with his or her poor landing technique, the instructor may choose to review the block on slow flight, which offers the learner a chance to do well and regain confidence. This exercise also builds the skills necessary for the learner to master approaches and normal landings.

Each approved training course provided by a certificated aviation school should be conducted in accordance with a training syllabus specifically approved by the FAA. At certificated schools, the syllabus is a key part of the training course outline. The instructional facilities, airport, aircraft, and instructor personnel support the course of training specified in the syllabus. Compliance with the appropriate, approved syllabus is a condition for graduation from such courses. Therefore, effective use of a syllabus necessitates that it be referred to throughout the entire course of training. Both the instructor and the learner should have a copy of the approved syllabus. However, as previously mentioned, adherence to a syllabus should not be so stringent that it becomes inflexible or unchangeable. It should be flexible enough to adapt to the special needs of individual learners.

Ground training lessons and classroom lectures concentrate on the cognitive domain of learning. A typical lesson might include defining, labeling, or listing what the learner understands so far. Many of the knowledge areas are directly or indirectly concerned with safety, ADM, and judgment. Since these subjects are associated with the affective domain of learning (emotion), instructors who find a way to stress safety, ADM, and judgment, along with the traditional aviation subjects, can favorably influence a learner’s attitude, beliefs, and values.

Flight training lessons or aviation technical lab sessions also include knowledge areas, but they generally emphasize the psychomotor domain of learning because the learner is “doing” something. The lesson plan shown in Figure 2 shows the main elements of a ground lesson for a flight learner. The affective domain of learning is also important in this type of training; a learner’s attitude toward safety, ADM, and judgment, should be a major concern of the instructor.

Training Syllabus, Planning Instructional Activity
Figure 2. A flight training lesson, like a ground training lesson, should include an objective, content, and completion standards. More than one objective could, and often does, apply to a single flight lesson

The flight training syllabus should include Risk Management instruction unique to each stage, phase, or training element to help the learner identify the risks involved and employ strategies to mitigate them. Throughout the learner’s training scenarios the instructor should include increasingly more subtle risks so that the learner becomes more skilled in identifying them and able to develop effective mitigation strategies. The aviation technician syllabus should also emphasize what constitutes unsafe practices, such as the ease of introducing foreign object damage (FOD) to an aircraft when the location of tools is not monitored.

A syllabus may include several other items that add to or clarify the objective, content, or standards. A lesson may specify the recommended class time, reference or study materials, recommended sequence of training, and study assignment for the next lesson. Both ground and flight lessons may have explanatory information notes added to specific lessons. [Figure 3]

Training Syllabus, Planning Instructional Activity
Figure 3. Information in the form of notes may be added to individual ground or flight lessons in a syllabus when they are necessary

While a syllabus is designed to provide a road map showing how to accomplish the overall objective of a course of training, it may be useful for other purposes. As already mentioned, it can be used as a checklist to ensure that required training has successfully been completed. Thus, a syllabus can be an effective tool for recordkeeping. Enhanced syllabi, which also are designed for recordkeeping, can be very beneficial to the independent instructor.

This recordkeeping function is usually facilitated by boxes or blank spaces adjacent to the knowledge areas, procedures, or maneuvers in a lesson. Most syllabi introduce each procedure or maneuver in one lesson and review them in subsequent lessons. Some syllabi also include provisions for grading learner performance and recording both ground and flight training time. Accurate recordkeeping is necessary to keep both the learner and the instructor informed on the status of training. These records also serve as a basis for endorsements and recommendations for knowledge and practical tests. Some training syllabi or records may include coded numbers or letters for other instructors to record their evaluation of a learner’s progress and knowledge or skill level. [Figure 4]

Training Syllabus, Planning Instructional Activity
Figure 4. Glider training log

Another benefit of using a syllabus is that it helps in the development of lesson plans. A well-constructed syllabus already contains much of the essential information that is required in a lesson plan, including objectives, content, and completion standards.