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Factors that affect the efficiency of driving training

Recent enquiries about the BIG TOM Franchise include how we help pupils to learn quicker. This blog will explain what factors will affect the efficiency of driving training. 


Traditionally, driving training has involved the weekly drip feeding of knowledge and driving practice; maybe one or two hours per week. The DVSA states that on average this takes 7 months to learn to drive. For the pupil, there is a combination of factors that affect outcomes: the physical skills needed to operate the vehicle, the cognitive skills of understanding how to operate the vehicle and the rules for driving on public roads and lastly, their attitude to learning. For the driving instructor, it is recognising the fact that you cannot force a pupil to learn; so the role is one of facilitating learning. A skilled driving instructor will be able to adapt to assist pupils with a range of needs. 


It takes time to develop good driving but it might be surprising how a highly motivated learner who has an awareness of how they learn, can learn very quickly. Many instructors will only offer the traditional way of learning to drive, so for a good many pupils, this way of learning will be holding them back: they are motivated, and they know how to learn, but they feel like they are being held back because ultimately, the ‘system’ of a lesson a week, is indeed holding them back. Much the same could be said of PDIs who feel that their trainer is holding them back too.  


You can see that there are two elements to this question of how to make learning efficient: the pupil and the instructor. But as you will see from the following list, there are more than just two factors. You could have a pupil on an intensive driving course who may not progress as quickly as they could for a number of reasons: 

  1. The pupil does not like the frequency and/or duration of the training sessions 
  2. The pupil has no desire to learn quickly, it is simply the parents who decided they are learning on an intensive course 
  3. The instructor does not have the skills to accurately recognise ability and wastes time 
  4. The instructor does not possess the skills to teach efficiently 
  5. The circumstances of the pupil do not lend themselves to an accelerated learning programme (learning difficulties, disability) 
  6. Either pupil or instructor struggles to perform (attention/perseverance/resilience/desire) for longer periods of training 
  7. The pupil has an over-inflated perception of their driving ability and mistakingly feels they have nothing more to learn 
  8. The pupil has not understood how an accelerated learning programme works and is unprepared 
  9. The pupil or instructor is not able to manage the training session to maintain safety and maximum progress 
  10. Depending on the frequency of sessions, time for effective reflection can be limited 
  11. At certain times of the year, the experience of driving in the dark can be limited 
  12. A pupil who is incapable of accepting or handling feedback from an instructor can waste valuable time 
  13. A pupil can become distracted from learning by the perceived pressure of a fixed schedule and their relative progress within it 
  14. The selection of the course provider is based on price rather than successful outcomes 
  15. Previous experience(s) that affect confidence 


You could have a pupil on traditional driving lessons who may not progress as quickly as they could do for a number of reasons: 

  1. The session is too short; just when the pupil feels they are beginning to make progress the session ends 
  2. The gaps between training sessions are so long the pupil struggles to remember key learning points 
  3. The length of the sessions is so short it limits the variety of practice locations 
  4. The length of the sessions is so short that too much of the session is ‘wasted’ getting to/from the practice location 
  5. Knowing that progress per session is limited, the pupil attempts to cram in or short-circuit the learning objectives which affects the quality of learning 
  6. Traditional driving lessons are known for the prevalence of cancelled sessions by pupils and/or instructor 
  7. Previous experience(s) that affect confidence 
  8. Traditional driving lessons are known for causing pupils to switch instructors partway through 
  9. Self-belief within a pupil is adversely affected by their perception of improvement as the change is so slight 
  10. The ability of the instructor to respond to pupil progress and adapt is limited – the structure of each lesson is fixed regardless of pupil achievement 
  11. The selection of an instructor is based on price rather than ability 
  12. The pupil has outside influences with unrealistic expectations of the time needed or puts pressure on the pupil to speed things up (parents/peers) 
  13. The pupil finds the pace of the session unstimulating or lacks challenge 
  14. The attitude of the instructor is fixed in terms of how many sessions will be needed, so every pupil receives the same number regardless of ability 
  15. A pupil is offered limited (perhaps none) additional resources outside of in-car practice that intensive courses do provide 
  16. The time it takes to make progress is demotivating for the pupil as the overall time it is taking is too long


So to summarise, there are many factors that can affect outcomes: the extent of the service being offered to the pupil, the attitude to learning and ability of the pupil, the range of learning resources made available to a pupil, the pressure felt by a pupil or exerted from parents/peers, motivation levels of the pupil and/or instructor, the technical skills of an instructor to facilitate efficient learning, previous experiences that cause a loss of confidence.