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The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at www.emeraldinsight.com/1366-5626.htm

The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at

www.emeraldinsight.com/1366-5626.htm

Trainer interventions as instructional strategies in air traffic control training

Inka Koskela

Department of Social Research, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland, and

Hannele Palukka

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Received 27 August 2010 Revised 20 December 2010 Accepted 4 February 2011

Faculty of Economics and Administration, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland

Abstract

Purpose – This paper aims to identify methods of guidance and supervision used in air traffic control training. It also aims to show how these methods facilitate trainee participation in core work activities.

Design/methodology/approach – The paper applies the tools of conversation analysis and ethnomethodology to explore the ways in which trainers and trainees act and interact in training situations. The data consist of the video recordings (total 38 hours) and ethnographic material gathered at a vocational institute for aviation and in two aerodrome control tower units.

Findings – The trainers used five different instructional strategies with which they guided and controlled the trainees’ actions. In simulator training, learning was structured as a process through which the procedural knowledge possessed by the expert controllers was transferred to the trainees through interventions such as orders, test questions and additions. As the trainees progressed to the on-the-job training phase, interaction evolved from being trainer-driven to trainer-guided. The trainees’ performance was fine-tuned and guided towards local practices of particular work position by means of instructions and information deliveries.

Practical implications – The simulator training and on-the-job training appear as two distinctive forms of vocational training with their own aims. In order to improve the quality of the training, it is suggested that greater attention should be given to the ways in which these two separate areas of learning could be better reconciled.

Originality/value – This ethnomethodological study on training interaction complements the understanding of instructional strategies used at different stages of air traffic control training. It is proposed that research into the local and social production of training interaction can shed useful light on the complexities of workplace learning and training interaction, providing a novel perspective for those engaged in practice of vocational education.

Keywords Training, Air transport, Education, Trainer intervention, Instructional strategies, Air traffic control, Finland

Paper type Research paper

1. Introduction

This article is concerned with examining vocational training and learning as a social

The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at www.emeraldinsight.com/1366-5626.htm Trainer interventions

activity in the context of Finnish air traffic control training. Air traffic control training is

The authors would like to thank Professor Stephen Billett for his valuable feedback on an earlier version of this article. The authors would also like to acknowledge two anonymous reviewers for their useful comments.

Journal of Workplace Learning Vol. 23 No. 5, 2011 pp. 293-314 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited

1366-5626

DOI 10.1108/13665621111141902

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in large part based on learning by doing, either in simulated or authentic work environments. The aim is to produce responsible and skilled air traffic controllers with sound basic knowledge and skills in air traffic control work. A qualified air traffic controller is capable of handling several departing and arriving aircraft at the same time and of responding and adapting quickly to changing circumstances (e.g. Sanne, 1999; Palukka, 2003; Palukka and Auvinen, 2005). Air traffic controllers must be able to make

  • 294 independent decisions and apply the most appropriate decisions and management

methods to each situation. It is crucial that the job is done safely but efficiently, without causing unnecessary delay to air traffic. Indeed this is a highly complex job that requires specialized skills and expertise acquired through training, practice and experience. he purpose of this article is to examine the processes and structures of trainer-trainee interaction in which professional skills and knowledge are transmitted and acquired. We apply the tools of conversation analysis and ethnomethodology to explore the ways in which trainers and trainees act and interact in training situations. The data consist of video recordings (total 38 hours) and ethnographic material gathered at a vocational institute for aviation and two aerodrome control tower units. We have two major questions: what methods of guidance and supervision are used in the training of air traffic controllers, and how do these methods facilitate trainee participation in core work activities. These questions are further elaborated in terms of two metaphorical perspectives on learning, i.e. learning as knowledge acquisition and learning as participation. The paper begins with an overview of the two metaphors of learning. This includes a review of previous research on workplace learning and training activities in apprenticeship. We then provide a brief characterization of air traffic control work and controllers’ professional identity. Next, we present the methodological principles of our study. The two subsequent sections then illustrate how trainers apply different methods of guidance and supervision and how the participation of trainees is facilitated through the training activities. Finally, the paper discusses the theoretical, methodological and practical implications of the empirical findings. We propose that research into the local and social production of training interaction can shed useful light on the complexities of workplace learning, training interaction and trainee participation, providing a novel perspective for those engaged in practice of vocational education.

2. Vocational training as viewed through the two metaphors of learning

In the context of vocational training, learning is often defined as the acquisition of knowledge and skills through practice. In this process of practical training, the formal theoretical knowledge conveyed in the training course is turned into conceptual knowledge possessed by an expert (Bereiter, 1997). In this understanding of learning as a process of learning by doing, the emphasis is on the individual mind and the individual’s cognitive structures. Knowledge is seen as a “property, target of assimilation or commodity” (Etela¨ pelto and Rasku-Puttonen, 1999). Indeed vocational training in general is grounded in the ideal of an individual, constructivist view of learning. It is thought that the individual learner has a pivotal role in developing their knowledge and skills structure and in acquiring, processing and reviewing the knowledge they need (Finnish National Board of Education, 2002). From the vantage-point of the constructivist learning concept, learning appears as a process of reorganizing and complementing the learner’s existing frameworks of thinking and action.

The acquisition metaphor (Sfard, 1998) provides a useful perspective on learning as a process of individual knowledge and skills acquisition, allowing us to explore and analyse human intelligence, learning and knowledge at a general level (Hakkarainen et al., 2004). Viewed in terms of this metaphor, learning appears as a process in which knowledge is transferred to the individual learner. From the knowledge acquisition perspective, learning is a process that takes place in the mind of each learner: it is the individual capacity of that learner to refine and process information and to combine it to form ever richer cognitive structures (Sfard, 1998). Conventional thinking about knowledge acquisition has it that the human mind is like a container that can be accessed as necessary, while learning is a process in which that container is refilled (Bereiter, 2002). Given this emphasis on the one-way movement of knowledge, this perspective separates the learner from their social and cultural environment (Hakkarainen et al., 2004, p. 19) as well as from the collective processes that mediate the learner’s socialization into the community of learning. Since the early 1990s, these individually focused approaches to learning have met with increasing competition from socio-constructivist and cultural approaches which stress the role of the social and physical environment in learning (e.g. Lave and Wenger, 1991; Resnick, 1993; Sa¨ ljo¨ , 2001; Hakkarainen et al. , 1999). Both socio-constructivist (e.g. Duffy and Jonassen, 1992) and situational concepts of learning (e.g. Brown et al., 1989; Lave and Wenger, 1991) are based on the notion of the situated, functional and practical dimension of learning. It is thought that knowledge, skills and learning are situationally connected to experience, doing and social action. When learning is approached as a process of knowledge and social practices, the emphasis shifts to the role of social communities in learning and in the development of expertise. Anna Sfard (1998) describes these approaches by reference to the participation metaphor. Viewed through the participation perspective, learning to become an expert and the development of expertise happen through participation in expert cultures (Lave and Wenger, 1991; Billett, 2006). Learning happens through growth into membership of an expert community. The key to learning lies in the learner gradually moving from the periphery of the community to the centre and to full participation. Knowledge is seen not just as a static entity, but as a dynamic and negotiable process that unfolds through interaction, co-participation and cooperation (Billett, 2002). This means that no one can claim ownership of knowledge, and it also has no specific locus; instead it is a dimension of participation in cultural practices (Lave and Wenger, 1991; Sfard, 1998). In the context of learning by doing and practising, interaction between learner and teacher is based on the so-called cognitive apprentice model (e.g. Collins et al., 1989; Collins et al., 1991; see Vygotsky, 1978). Learning is based on the cooperation between master and apprentice, and the necessary skills are picked up in the process of conducting authentic job tasks in real workplace environments. The relationship between master and apprentice is not just cooperative, but also reciprocal. By observing, supervising and explaining, the qualified expert can steer the novice’s actions in a manner appropriate to the situation. The learner, in turn, can actively contribute to the job by observing and copying the actions of the expert. In the course of learning, the processes, rules and norms related to the job are not only made visible, but also shared, maintained, re-interpreted and shaped in the interaction between the participants. The thinking then is that the reciprocal relationship between qualified expert and trainee involves not only the transfer of the practical tacit knowledge needed on the job, but it

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also helps to create a sense of professional identity and membership of the professional community (e.g. Collins et al., 1989; Sfard, 1998; Lave and Wenger, 1991). In the context of workplace learning, then, it makes sense to consider learning both in terms of knowledge acquisition and transfer and in terms of meaningful participation in a professional community (Sfard, 1998; see, also Mori and Markee, 2009). In becoming an expert participant of the community, the individual needs to

  • 296 acquire, develop, and appropriate knowledge as well as collaborate, act and interact in

the expert community. Still, neither of the metaphors easily translates into concrete instructional descriptions or practices. They do not provide any methodological tools for examining how concretely interaction is organized, how knowledge is transferred in practice or how different participation levels vary from one situation to another. Instead they represent general, abstract and normative ideas about learning and teaching. To fully understand the nature of workplace learning we need detailed descriptions of the organization of training interaction. Pedagogical strategies and activities embedded in workplace learning have previously been researched in a range of different contexts, including air traffic control (Owen, 2009; Teperi and Leppa¨ nen, 2010), design engineering (Collin and Valleala, 2005), paediatrics (Beckett and Gough, 2004), consumer-focused manufacturing (Ellinger and Cseh, 2007) and other occupational groups (Koopmans et al., 2006). However, most of this work has explored instructors’ or employees’ pedagogical strategies and practices based on self-reports or interview data. This, to us, represents only one side of the coin, since instructor-manifested activities and personal pedagogical ideas may differ widely from actual instructional events taking place in the interaction (see, e.g. Hakkarainen et al., 2001; Pera¨ kyla¨ and Vehvila¨ inen, 2003). To complement the picture of workplace learning and instruction, we feel it is necessary to record, observe and analyse instructional patterns and strategies in their natural environment, as they emerge in actual training settings. We therefore have chosen to focus on studying what the trainers are doing rather that what they say they are doing. In recent years these kinds of interaction-oriented studies into learning and teaching have focused on actual interactions and collaborations between trainer and trainee and the environments in which they operate (e.g. Goodwin, 1994; Martin, 2004; Nishizaka, 2006; Melander and Sahlstro¨ m, 2009; Filliettaz et al., 2010; Hindmarsh et al., 2011). Relying on methods of conversation analysis and multimodal analysis of social interaction, these studies have examined the social organization of training, the processes and structures of interaction and material and multimodal dimensions of practice-based training. On the other hand less attention has been paid to the ways in which instructional activities facilitate trainees’ knowledge development and participation in training activities in safety critical environments. We still know relatively little about what concretely happens in the interaction between novices training for an occupation and qualified experts in that occupation. For instance, how do professionals communicate to trainees, through what they do and what they say, the practices, knowledge and norms of the job? And how do the methods of guidance and supervision they use facilitate and limit the participation of trainees in practising the skills they need on the job?

3. The air traffic control community: the job and the workplace culture

Air traffic controllers are charged with the job of tracking and directing aircraft in controlled air space. In executing this job they interact not only with pilots, but also

with other air traffic controllers and air traffic control units. Air traffic control is a socio-technical and safety-critical work environment with a strict task-based division of labour: the tasks and activities are distributed both professionally, temporally, spatially and organizationally. The safe and expeditious flow of air traffic requires that there is seamless cooperation among all the people and units involved, and that a joint understanding is created and maintained between them. The work is mediated not only by means of material artefacts – i.e. equipment and information systems – but also by means of human artefacts, i.e. rules and regulations, communication practices and professional culture. Air traffic control is a dynamic cooperative activity that relies on shared meanings and common understandings among individual air traffic controllers. It requires a commitment on the part of all the professionals involved to coordinated, goal-oriented and shared problem-solving. Research on air traffic control belongs traditionally to the discipline of psychology. Most of this research has been dominated by trait theory and cognitive explanations, focusing primarily on the individual’s internal states and dispositions and on the knowledge, skills and cognitive capacities required in the job of air traffic controller (Hopkin, 1995). Viewed from a trait theory perspective, air traffic control appears as a responsible, controlled, complex and dynamic activity that requires not only perfect and consistent performance but also creative problem-solving skills (e.g. Lenorovitz and Phillips, 1987, p. 1776; Ryder and Redding, 1993, p. 75). Psychologically oriented research has a tendency to reduce the agents of air traffic control to their individual characteristics, to events taking place within the individual’s mind. Consequently the social environment in which air traffic controllers go about their job is excluded from the field of analysis. If human agents are classified and rated solely on the basis of their knowledge, skills or cognitive capacities and are so removed from the environment in which they work, this may lead to the false suggestion that the problems in the work process are due to weak individuals (Engestro¨ m, 1995). Trait theory and cognitive research regard air traffic control work as a mechanical activity programmed by external or biological factors, and in so doing fail to take account of subjective value orientations by virtue of which air traffic control work is also a cultural and social activity (Arminen et al., 2010). Earlier research into the professional identity of Finnish air traffic controllers has shown that they view themselves as a distinct professional group whose members have been born with innate skills to control air traffic (Palukka, 2003). These skills are the product not just of external conditions such as the education system, but also of certain innate and immutable characteristics and internal powers within the individual, certain personality traits. These beliefs and views about individual qualities and capacities also trickle down into practices of air traffic control training. In a study of on-the-job training programmes for Australian air traffic controllers, Owen (2009) claims these programmes reflect a similar ethos of innate qualities as was highlighted by Palukka (2003):

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on-the-job-training instructors, she says, demonstrate a belief in ability, value performance in demonstrating ability, and underscore the need to exude confidence. The view that working in air traffic control requires certain innate individual qualities is constructed and maintained not just by air traffic controllers. Several researchers in this field (e.g. Hopkin, 1988, 1995; Eissfeldt and Maschke, 1991; Brehmer, 1996) have reiterated the argument that the ability to control air traffic is largely based on innate and immutable individual characteristics. They suggest that certain personality traits,

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brain mechanisms and individual qualities such as reaction and observation skills, coordination, memory and decision-making are necessary to learning the skills that are needed in air traffic control work. These kinds of explanations are deeply entrenched in our culture. They are closely similar to the way that Homer explained the actions of Achilles by reference to his courage and pride and the actions of Odysseus by reference to his foresight and cunning (Hakkarainen, 2000, p. 85).

  • 298 The widely shared belief about air traffic controllers’ innate characteristics and

individual qualities is clearly rather problematic. If the professional expertise of controllers is based solely on their individual skills, traits and competencies, how is it possible to learn and train for this job in the first place?

4. Research methods and data

The purpose of this article is to analyse the instructional strategies that are used in simulator and on-the-job training for air traffic controllers. It applies the tools of conversation analysis to explore the way in which trainers and trainees act and interact in training situations. The main focus of the conversation analysis (CA) is on the organization of social activity and interaction. CA seeks to explicate organizational features of talk and action as they are displayed and understood by the participants in the actual events of interaction. The focus is on how particular social actions, such as advising, requesting and questioning are organized and locally produced through talk (e.g. Schegloff and Sacks, 1973; Schegloff, 2007, pp. 7-12). The data for the research were collected at two different stages of air traffic control training. The first dataset was collected during simulator training at a vocational institute for aviation, and the second during on-the-job training sessions at two aerodrome control units. The researchers gained access to this field by first negotiating with representatives of the vocational institute for aviation, after which a meeting was organized to recruit voluntary participants for the study. The data consist of observations and video recordings of training situations and interviews with trainers and trainees. The primary dataset for the analysis consists of the video recordings. The close analysis of actual interaction makes use of ethnographic research methods by anchoring the interpretations offered to the authors’ existing understanding of the air traffic control system and work. The ethnographic observation and interview material provides also the necessary background understanding of air traffic control training. The first stage of data collection comprised 12 simulator sessions. These sessions involved nine trainees and six trainers, and they were video recorded using three digital video cameras and a device linking their signals. The second stage of data collection comprised 26 hours of video recorded training situations at two aerodrome control units. The on-the-job training sessions involved two trainees and four trainers. These sessions were also recorded using three digital video cameras. The primary interest in the data analysis was to gain understanding about the basic structures of trainee-trainer interaction. To this end the recordings from the training sessions were transcribed in detail so as to characterize the dynamics of the turn-taking system and aspects of speech delivery (Appendix). The process of preparing the transcripts and viewing the video recordings helped to draw attention to the fact that the trainers had recurrent ways of carrying out the task of teaching. The data corpus was later revisited in order to identify trainer interventions used at different stages of training. Transcribed text files and coded video recordings were used to assist in this phase of the

analysis. Different types of trainer interventions were identified based on two sets of criteria: intervention turn designs, and their sequential import. The analysis of turn designs covered not only the choice of words and grammatical aspects, but also the ways in which these interventions were uttered. The sequential import of the interventions was analysed in relation to what kind of action this turn performed and what type of action it produced as a relevant next. The scope of the analysis was thus extended to the trainee’s responses following the trainer intervention. As a result of this analysis, five recurrent trainer interventions were identified in the data. The data observations were further validated in joint seminars with other conversation analysts and the research subjects. As regards the limitations of the study, it is worth noting that the data collection procedure did not follow a longitudinal qualitative design, but rather represents a cross-sectional approach. While this research design enables us to make some comparisons between two distinctive types of training settings and activities within those settings, it does not allow us to follow the trainees’ development and learning over time. Another concern is that the focus of the study produces a trainer-centred analysis. It follows that less attention is paid to the ways in which the trainees actively engage in and contribute to the ongoing training activities.

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5. Findings

In air traffic control training, the interaction between trainer and trainee revolves around two intertwined institutional frameworks: the education framework and the aviation framework. First, the actions of trainer and trainee are determined by the education framework and the respective roles of the participants within that framework. The trainee’s primary role is to perform the job tasks assigned and to learn in the process, while the trainer takes a supervisory and teaching role. Second, the opportunities and limitations for the trainer’s and trainee’s actions are determined by the air traffic control system and its inherent logic. Both the trainer and trainee interact with the changes happening in the work environment: both of them interpret what they see, respond to the events they observe and formulate their responses in relation to the rules and regulations governing air traffic control work. Due to asymmetries of knowledge and skills, gaps of understanding occur quite frequently throughout the training sessions. The trainers are usually faster, more fluent and competent in noticing and understanding local demands for accomplishing certain air traffic control tasks. To facilitate the trainees’ participation in the work activities, the trainers apply different methods of guidance and supervision. These methods of guidance and supervision are henceforth called interventions, as they routinely interfere with and suspend unfolding activities in which the trainee is engaged. Five different types of interventions were identified in the data, i.e. giving orders, asking test questions, complementing speech production, providing instruction, and giving information. Interventions are interactive tools of training with which the trainer can control and guide the trainee’s actions. Interventions have two main functions in interaction: they either provide direction and guidance to the trainee, or they serve to correct the trainee’s actions. Directive interventions are intended to guide the trainee’s attention and actions to air traffic control tasks that are most relevant to the current traffic situation. Corrective interventions, then, are ways of addressing mistakes made by the trainee. The next two sections illustrate trainer interventions in more detail with the help of data extracts, examining them as part of the sequential progression of training activities.

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5.1 Simulator training as relational exchange and participation

According to the cognitive apprentice model, learning takes place in a reciprocal relationship between master and apprentice. However, if we turn to examine simulator training for air traffic controllers and study more closely knowledge exchange and participation at the level of interaction, the relationship between trainer and trainee appears relational. Simulator training is designed to support the assimilation of
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knowledge and skills about the procedures, tasks, rules and regulations, emphasizing

the role of individual trainee controllers and their cognitive structures in the learning process. On the interactional level, the training focuses more on the individual’s performance and accomplishment of the tasks than on the comprehensive management and planning of air traffic flows. Through interventions, the training activities are structured into a process through which the knowledge possessed by the expert controllers is transferred to the novice trainees. This is particularly clear from the type of interventions that are applied in the simulator training. One of the most typical trainer interventions used in simulator training is the giving of an order. Figure 1 clearly demonstrates the participants’ orientation towards the accomplishment of the tasks at hand, and specifically the trainer’s orientation towards the trainee’s performance. While the trainee’s primary role is to perform the job tasks assigned and to learn in the process, the trainer takes a supervisory role. The participants’ asymmetrical alignment to the job task at hand becomes apparent as the trainer prompts the trainee to move on to the next task, as illustrated in Figure 1. In this training situation the trainee’s task is to assist an aircraft to take-off. The trainee (TE) has instructed an aircraft (Homer One) to taxi to the runway and wait for takeoff clearance. The runway is occupied by another aircraft that has just landed (OCM). At the same time a third aircraft (OCC) that is entering the aerodrome zone is calling tower (line 1). The trainee acknowledges he has heard this call on lines 3 and 5. The trainee then turns his attention to a new task, as indicated by the particle “then”. However it is impossible to infer where the trainee intends to orientate next. Before the trainee proceeds to actual task implementation, the trainer (TR) intervenes by ordering him to issue takeoff clearance to

Figure 1.

Example 1

JWL 5.1 Simulator training as relational exchange and participation According to the cognitive apprentice model, learning

the aircraft (Homer One) waiting on the runway (line 9) as he says: “read”. In response, the trainee immediately gives takeoff clearance to this aircraft (lines 10-11). It is clear from the trainer’s intervention that he thinks the trainee is in need of guidance on how to manage with the overlapping tasks. The motivation for giving the order arises from the trainee’s deliberate shift from one task to another. As the air traffic controller’s work is time-critical and involves constant change, the trainees must learn how to multitask and to organize tasks in a prospective manner. Giving an order is an explicit and direct way of telling the trainee which task should be performed next and of prompting the trainee to address that task. For the trainee and the trainer this kind of direct guidance is not problematic, instead both of them orient to the situation as an event where the more experienced party has the right and the responsibility to guide and direct the other’s actions. Through orders and the subsequent trainee responses, the trainee and the trainer continuously co-construct their asymmetrical and relational relationship into being. Our analysis here also shows how in simulator training the trainers help their trainees accomplish the job tasks at hand by asking them test questions. Test questions shape the trainer’s and trainee’s relationship in a slightly different way than the intervening order. Trainers use test questions to check their trainees’ understanding of the ongoing traffic situation and provide subtle guidance for orientation to a new task. Test questions are a common method of pedagogical interaction more generally, allowing teachers to involve learners in interaction and to elicit their knowledge (e.g. Mehan, 1979; Levinson, 1992; Seedhouse, 2004). By asking test questions, trainers in air traffic control training are both able to control trainees’ understanding and to orient them to critical aspects of the task at hand. In Figure 2, the trainer asks a test question in order to reorient the trainee’s focus to a new task. This sequence illustrates a training situation in which the trainee is assisting an aircraft that is coming in to land. On lines 1-6 the trainee (TE) advises the landing aircraft (J36) of opposite traffic. This sequence ends with the trainee’s acknowledgement “Tower” on line 6. On line 7, the trainer presents a test question to the trainee: “And who do you talk to next?” This serves to refocus the trainee’s orientation to the next task. The wording of the question does not specify the relevant task, but allows the trainee to make an independent assessment as to which aircraft requires his attention next. The trainee commits to appropriate action by orienting to the changing airspace situation and issuing landing clearance to the aircraft in question on lines 11-12. Test questions are used recurrently in situations where the trainee is not handling a situationally relevant task. Through the test question, the trainer is suggesting that the trainee is lacking situational awareness. Like orders, test questions convey a directive function in training interaction, invoking the trainee to accomplish a certain task. By questioning trainees, trainers invite them to engage in an active problem-solving process. Instead of explicitly singling out the task, the trainers highlight critical contextual aspects related to the task at hand, so as to guide the trainees to recognize it and allow them to complete it by themselves. In Figure 3, the trainee’s and trainer’s asymmetrical alignment to the task at hand and their differing access to relevant resources becomes apparent in the way that the trainer helps the trainee complete the route clearance. The extract illustrates a training situation where the trainee is assisting a departing aircraft. On lines 1-2 the trainee (TE) issues route clearance to the aircraft (Homer One).

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Figure 2.

Example 2

Figure 3.

Example 3

JWL 23,5 302 Figure 2. Example 2 Figure 3. Example 3 The relevant source of information
JWL 23,5 302 Figure 2. Example 2 Figure 3. Example 3 The relevant source of information

The relevant source of information for delivering route clearances are flight progress strips. These strips contain information such as the aircraft’s identification and type, flight rules, departure and arrival airport, take-off time, altitudes, route and navigation points. However, they do not contain all the information that is needed in clearance production. Instead, the trainee must recall appropriate phrases out of his memory. However, it is clear from the pauses and the searching for words that this is not going without difficulty. The trainer therefore decides to intervene with two additions. The first addition comes on line 4 in response to the trainee’s incomplete clearance. Apparently the trainee’s hesitation and slowness with the route clearance “after departure” (two separate 0.2 second pauses on line 4) prompts the trainer to intervene with another addition. This second intervention (“fly” on line 6) helps the trainee get to the end and complete the route clearance.

It is clear that the trainee is lacking in sufficient skills to formulate the appropriate clearance. By adding an element to the trainee’s speech production, the trainer gives the trainee a clue as to how he should continue with the phrase, helping him to produce the rest of the clearance. Addition can thus be regarded as an instructional strategy that provides assistance and cognitive resources for trainees so that they can complete the task at the skill level just beyond what they could accomplish by themselves (see zone of proximal development, Vygotsky, 1978). It is worth noting that although regularly used in simulator training, the addition is a context-specific instructional strategy directly linked to the controller’s key competencies, i.e. mastery of aviation phraseology and communication procedures. The previous examples have shown how directive interventions such as orders, test questions and additions shape the trainer’s and trainee’s asymmetrical and relational relationship. In simulator training the trainer’s corrective interventions also structure the participants’ relationship as relational. In the next example, the trainer uses a test question for corrective purposes (Figure 4). Figure 4 illustrates a case in which the trainee is assisting an aircraft to taxi to the apron. Aircraft Oscar Alpha Juliet (OAJ) has just landed. On lines 1-2 the trainee (TE) uses the wrong call Oscar Alpha Yankee (OAY) to inform the aircraft of its landing time and to instruct it to taxi to the terminal area. On line 4 the trainer (TR) turns the trainee’s attention to this mistake by presenting the test question, “Is it Alpha Yankee?” The trainee responds by saying again his taxiing clearance: “Oscar Alpha Juliet”. The incorrect clearance code highlighted by the intervention (line 1) is thus located and resolved on line 6. In simulator training, trainers draw trainees’ attention to mistakes and errors they notice either by test questions or by direct orders or instructions. The choice of formulation has rather different consequences. If they ask a test question, trainers point out that the trainee has made a mistake. However trainers do not offer any alternative instead, but leave the task of correcting the mistake to the trainee. It remains the trainee’s job to figure out what they have done wrong and how the mistake should be corrected. In the case of direct corrections, trainers assume the responsibility for correcting the mistake themselves. The trainee is only expected to repeat. In

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It is clear that the trainee is lacking in sufficient skills to formulate the appropriate clearance.

Figure 4.

Example 4

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simulator training corrective interventions serve as instructional strategies with which expert controllers control and regulate the speech and performance of novices. As such, these interventions complete the central goal of training, which is the location and remediation of problematic or incorrect practices. Our analysis here goes to show that in the early stages of air traffic control training, a major goal is to ensure the accomplishment of current job tasks (see, also Owen, 2009;

  • 304 Rogoff, 1990). To this end trainers must repeatedly provide guidance to the trainees

and correct their mistakes in order to enhance their performance. Viewed from the knowledge acquisition perspective, simulator training mainly focuses on the development of trainees’ procedural knowledge. Procedural knowledge refers here to the controller’s ability to perform various tasks related to the provision of air navigation services, air traffic services and the management of air traffic. Through interventions, the knowledge and skills gained by trainers is proceduralized in interaction. Once acquired, these skills are potentially applicable and transferable to other situations or to other contexts. From the participation perspective, then, simulator training is shaped by the participants’ engagement in joint activities and work practices. The spatial arrangement provides them mutual access to different resources, tools and information sources, enabling them to develop a shared understanding about the ongoing situation. Still, on the interactional level, the relationship between trainer and trainee is co-constituted as asymmetrical and relational. Typically, trainee’s activities are trainer-led. Trainers have an active role in monitoring, guiding and controlling trainees in their training. In their capacity as experts they also have an institutional right and responsibility to judge and assess the performance of trainees as adequate or inappropriate. The data show that one of the key areas for trainer intervention is the situation where the trainee needs to turn his attention to a new task. In these situations the trainer usually passes on information, either directly or indirectly, to the trainee about what tasks they need to perform and in what order. The trainees, for their part, are usually willing to take this advice; they very rarely object to or resist the proposed tasks or corrected activities.

5.2 On-the-job training as reciprocal exchange and participation

On-the-job training can be approached as a process of knowledge and social practices in which the air traffic control community assumes a major role in learning and in the development of expertise. In this context learning and the development of expertise happen through participation in the community of practice. The key in on-the-job training is that the trainee moves gradually from the periphery of the community to its centre and to full participation. This process implies that the knowledge and skills that are needed in air traffic control are not so much someone’s exclusive property as a dimension of participation in the air traffic control community. In on-the-job training, learning is more reciprocal than in simulator training. On-the-job training is designed to provide trainees access to the local requirements for a particular performance within a particular work position. The transition from global procedures and practices to local ones is emphasized throughout on-the-job training (see, also Lave, 1990). Trainer interventions are accordingly more heavily focused on the trainee’s local knowledge and skills, i.e. on the distinctive features of the particular work position rather than on general knowledge about procedures, rules and

regulations. By supporting trainees in their work, trainers not only make visible the tacit knowledge embedded in a specific work position and location, but also enhance the development of the trainees’ situational awareness and understanding of the ongoing situation. As air traffic control trainees progress through their learning, training interaction moves increasingly from a trainer-driven activity to a joint collaborative – reciprocal – effort between trainers and trainees. In on-the-job training situations, trainers steer and direct trainees mainly by giving instructions and delivering information. By giving instructions the trainers can justify proper courses of action. As an intervention steering the trainee’s actions, the instruction carries imperative weight, since it prompts action in compliance with the rules and regulations. The trainee must follow the instructions given and change his earlier actions. In Figure 5 the instruction given by the trainer reminds the trainee of how to separate arriving and departing traffic. Figure 5 illustrates a case in which the trainee assesses the current traffic evolution in the control zone. At the same time as an aircraft (OCM) is approaching the control zone, another aircraft (FAV141K) is about to take off. On line 1 the trainee (TE) tells the trainer (TR) that he will contact approach control to request clearance for the outbound aircraft (FAV141K). The trainer gives his approval on line 2. Then, the trainee calls approach control and requests for departure clearance (line 4). During this call, on line 6, the trainee receives a first call from the approaching aircraft (OCM). Since the trainee is still in the process of gaining clearance, he requests the approaching aircraft to wait for new instructions. Once he has received clearance from approach control, the trainee begins planning the approach of the approaching aircraft (OCM). On line 22 the trainer confirms that the trainee’s plan is correct by saying “Yes”; and a second time on line 24, where he says “Right.” These confirmations suggest that the trainee so far has coped well with his tasks of traffic planning. However the trainee has not yet noticed the problem of crossing traffic. This is evident from the trainer’s instruction (lines 34-41). The trainee responds to the trainer’s intervention by a critical assessment of his own actions: “Damn it yeah.” The trainer reassures the trainee, saying that this is a training situation and that the trainee is not yet required to assume the same level of responsibility as is required of a qualified professional with a full licence at this air traffic control unit (line 44). The trainee then requests departure clearance from approach control in accordance with the trainer’s instructions. When the trainee fails to recognize the need to recoordinate the two aircraft, the trainer initiates an instruction to highlight this problem. By intervening with an instruction, the trainer updates the trainee’s mental picture of the situation and draws his attention to a potential loss of separation. Even though the trainer needs to correct the trainee’s actions, the training activities rest on and are shaped by the participants’ reciprocal and collaborative effort. First of all, right after the trainee has accepted the inappropriate clearance from approach control, the trainer refrains from intervening and gives the trainee the opportunity to notice the problem for himself (see pause in talk on line 19). The trainee, on the other hand, explicitly offers his traffic plan to the trainer for confirmation as he explains his intentions regarding traffic management (lines 20-21). The trainer confirms that the trainee’s traffic plan is correct, but still refrains from pointing out the problem. Third, when the trainer finally launches his instruction, it is designed to provide a step-by-step pathway for the trainee to infer what the possible problem might be. The problem is partly rooted in the local rules and

Trainer

interventions

305

JWL

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306

Figure 5.

Example 5

JWL 23,5 306 Figure 5. Example 5
Trainer interventions 307 Figure 5.
Trainer
interventions
307
Figure 5.

standards of this work position. As an experienced controller, the trainer is familiar with the local requirements beyond the task and through his instructions makes these tacit aspects explicit to the trainee as well. Fourth, after the potential error situation has been handled, the affective load is collaboratively alleviated between the trainee and trainer. In our last example, the trainer provides information to a trainee after completion of a task by telling him about practices followed in tower control as well as the distinctive features of the air space that are tower control’s responsibility. In the example the trainer focuses more on the trainee’s local knowledge and skills than on his familiarity with the rules and regulations (Figure 6). This sequence illustrates a traffic situation in which the trainee is planning aerodrome traffic. The task involves monitoring the control zone and managing approaching aircraft. On lines 1-3 the trainee (TE) tells his trainer that he needs to contact approach control to check the location of the approaching aircraft (OCM) because he is unable to see it. The trainer begins his intervention by questioning this

JWL

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308

Figure 6.

Example 6

JWL 23,5 308 Figure 6. Example 6 (line 10). The trainer further expands on this on

(line 10). The trainer further expands on this on lines 12-13 by saying that it is in fact possible to detect from the tower aircraft approaching from the west. The trainer’s assessment advises the trainee as to where he should look in order that he can spot approaching aircraft. The trainer uses his outstretched right arm, palm downwards, to pinpoint a dip behind a field: that’s where the trainee should be looking. As the aircraft appears on the horizon, the trainer changes his gesture to show that this general statement has become concretized and a specific event: the arm remains extended, but he is now pointing his finger at the plane. In this way the trainer’s verbal and bodily information together constitute a resource that steers the trainee’s attention, allowing the trainee to orientate to the current traffic situation. In this situation, the reciprocal relationship between trainer and trainee involves not only the transfer of the practical tacit knowledge needed in this particular work position, but it also enhances the trainee’s professional vision (Goodwin, 1994). Professional vision is socially organized ways of perceiving and understanding relevant events and materials of the environment that enable the air traffic controllers to interpret the current air traffic situation in a task-relevant manner. Rather than dependent on individual cognitive and psychological processes, professional vision is associated with and shaped by interpretations and meanings produced in the course of

practical action (Goodwin, 1994). However, a skilled air traffic controller and a trainee see different things in their environment in different ways (see, also Goodwin and Goodwin, 1996). By giving information, the trainer is able to both assist the trainee in perceiving relevant events and features of the local environment and develop his professional vision. The two examples analysed above have shown how air traffic control requires not just peer learning and coordinated learning based on a division of labour, but also reciprocal understanding of traffic management. On-the-job training is an interactive and horizontal activity in which an experienced and qualified expert and an inexperienced novice take turns to work at a task level and a meta cognitive level. During this later stage of air traffic control training, trainee’s activities are no longer trainer-directed but become increasingly trainer-guided. The trainee assumes an active role in planning air traffic, designing the job tasks and performing the work. The trainer, in turn, monitors and fine-tunes the trainee’s performance. Viewed from the perspective of knowledge acquisition, the on-the-job training phase focuses on the development of trainees’ local knowledge rather than on global procedural knowledge of the work. Local knowledge refers to the features, standards, rules and contextual aspects that are inherently coupled to the specific work environment in which the various tasks are performed. Indeed, the major goal of on-the-job training is to support the development of practice-based procedures in the work position concerned. From the participation point of view, on-the-job training is based on the participants’ mutual engagement in goal-directed activity aimed at effective management of air traffic. Rather than constantly teaching, controlling or correcting their trainees, the trainers support them in problem solving so that they can work quasi-independently.

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309

6. Discussion and conclusion

In this article we have examined the vocational training of air traffic controllers as a

social accomplishment, approaching it from the vantage-point of trainer-trainee interaction. We have applied the tools of conversation analysis and ethnomethodology to analyse the processes and structures of interaction through which knowledge and skills are taught and learned in two distinctive training environments. Our aim was to study the methods of guidance and supervision used in air traffic control training and the ways in which these methods facilitated trainee participation at different stages of the training programme. The instructional strategies identified were further discussed in relation to the knowledge acquisition and participation perspectives on learning. We found that the trainers used five different instructional strategies with which they guided and controlled the trainees’ actions. Five different types of trainer interventions were identified: giving orders, asking test questions, complementing speech production, providing instruction and giving information. Interventions were found to have two main functions in training interaction: they either provided direction and guidance to the trainee, or they served to correct the trainee’s actions. Directive interventions were intended to guide the trainee’s attention and actions to air traffic control tasks that were most relevant to the current traffic situation. Corrective interventions, for their part, were ways of addressing mistakes made by the trainee. By providing guidance and correcting mistakes, the trainers not only made visible the tacit knowledge embedded in air traffic control work, but also supported the development of the trainees’ situational awareness and their understanding.

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Both cognitive and social dimensions of learning appeared as interdependent aspects of the training processes of the air traffic controllers. In simulator training, learning was structured as a process where generalized procedural knowledge about individual air traffic control tasks was made explicit to the trainees through interventions such as orders, test questions and additions. At this stage of the training the goal was to familiarize the trainees to the practices of a community (see Gherardi

  • 310 et al., 1998) rather than socialize them in a community of practice (Lave and Wenger,

1991). The training interaction was shaped by asymmetrical and relational aspects as the trainees’ activities were very much trainer-led. As a consequence, a relational relationship was identified as a dominant feature of simulator training. As the training progressed, its focus gradually shifted from the transmission of global, generalized knowledge towards the local requirements in a particular location. On-the-job training concentrated on the tacit and local aspects embedded in a specific work position and environment. In this context the development of expertise took place through trainee participation in authentic activities within the community of practice (Lave and Wenger, 1991). As the trainees progressed to this stage of their training, interaction evolved from being trainer-driven to trainer-guided. The trainees’ performance was fine-tuned and guided mainly by means of instructions and information deliveries. In on-the-job training, the nature of the interaction between trainer and trainee was found to be reciprocal as they collaboratively built and negotiated practices, procedures and local standards beyond the tasks at hand. As a result, simulator training and on-the-job training appeared as two distinctive forms of vocational training with their own aims and contributions. From the viewpoint of the trainees’ professional development, it is essential that they gain learning experience in both environments and gradually move from a peripheral to a central position of the air traffic control community. As we have suggested in this article, training interaction is based on trainer’s interventions and trainee’s responses. From a research point of view this interaction is not consciously and deliberately organized, however, and therefore it appears as less than coherent from a supervision theory point of view. Air traffic control trainers seem to cope very well with the challenges of interaction by relying on their own skills, cognitive capacities and personal qualities (see, also Owen, 2009). Indeed it seems that the practices of supervision and interaction in training are not so much shared, collective capital of community as the air traffic control trainers’ own human capital. Training interventions are a salient but neglected part of air traffic control training. It is clearly important that vocational training has access to tools for the conscious observation and reflection of trainer-trainee interaction and cooperation (see, also Teperi and Leppa¨ nen, 2010.) To capture and unravel the actual training event, we need tools that are sensitive to the local production of training interaction. Ethnomethodologically inspired studies on training interaction allow us to focus on the practices and procedures of situated actions and events especially in training in high reliability organizations. Interaction studies on vocational training may significantly add to our theoretical understanding of teaching and training strategies, helping us to re-specify the processes and structures of authentic pedagogical interaction. Importantly, these interaction studies can correct, re-specify and expand practitioners’ own ideas and assumptions of their work (Pera¨ kyla¨ and Vehvila¨ inen, 2003).

In order to improve the quality of air traffic control training, we suggest that it is necessary to reflect both individually and collectively on the actual training events as they take place in both simulator training and on-the-job training. In addition, we suggest that the relationship between simulator training and on-the-job training requires closer evaluation. Greater attention should be given to the ways in which these two types of training experiences and activities are appropriately reconciled. Consequently, further research is needed to see how these two separate areas of learning can be more effectively integrated.

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311

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Appendix. Transcription conventions

The transcription conventions used in data examples are based on the system developed by Gail

Jefferson (1974, cf. Atkinson and Heritage, 1984, pp. ix-xvi):

.

Falling terminal intonation.

,

Flat terminal intonation.

?

Rising terminal intonation.

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314

8

Quiet or whispered talk.

#

Creaky voice.

:

Prolonged sound; every: counts as on tens of second length of production.

,

.

Talk produced slower than surrounding.

.

,

Talk produced faster than surrounding.

whe-

Cut off word.

what

Emphatic stress.

WHAT

Produced louder than surrounding talk.

=

Latching utterances, i.e. preceding utterance immediately follows the first.

*

Intonation rise.

#

Intonation fall.

[

Beginning of the overlapping talk.

]

End of the overlapping talk.

.hhh

Hearable inhalation.

hhh

Hearable exhalation.

(0.0)

Pauses in talk measured in tenths of seconds.

(.)

Pause in talk shorter that one tenth of second.

( )

Incomprehensible talk for the transcriber.

(right)

Transcriber’s best guess at unclear talk.

(( ))

Transcriber’s additional observation/comment.

!

Analyst’s signal of a significant line.

About the authors

Inka Koskela is a PhD candidate in the Department of Social Research at the University of

Tampere. In her doctoral dissertation she examines structures of trainer-trainee interaction in air

traffic control training. The research combines methods of conversation analysis and multimodal

video analysis. The research reported in this article forms a part of her doctoral dissertation,

financially supported by the Finnish Doctoral Program in Social Sciences (SOVAKO). Inka

Koskela is the corresponding author and can be contacted at inka.koskela@uta.fi

Hannele Palukka holds a PhD in Sociology from the University of Tampere. She is Project

Manager at Faculty of Economics and Administration. Her scholarly interest is in the

organization of work and relations in working life and organization of social interaction in high

reliability organizations. She holds several years of work experience in air traffic control and has

a long history of research collaboration within the aviation industry.

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