THE NAVY INSTRUCTOR
Teaching has been described as both an art and a science. The science of teaching helps to
explain what must be done. It is concerned with the why and how of instruction. The science
of teaching helps the new instructor understand the techniques and acquire the knowledge
required to do the job. That is why Navy instructor training includes subjects on the principles
of learning, motivation, communication, instructional methods, objectives, testing, and the ways
people learn, among other topics. That is also why instructor training includes a lot of practice
teaching and teaching-performance examinations.
These specific parts of the training are
designed to help the beginning instructor grasp the basic techniques of instruction.
Once beginning instructors learn to use these techniques, they can start to learn the art of
As with any art, some artists (instructors) will be more effective than others.
Efficient instructors know and follow all the rules and techniques of teaching. However,
effective instructors are often those who seize every opportunity to enhance the learning
experience by being more creative in their use of the rules and techniques. Before you can do
that, though, you must know the rules and when you may appropriately deviate from them.
The art of instruction really cannot be taught. You develop it through experience and
learning what works. The science of instruction can be taught. Therefore, the more you know
and understand about the science of teaching, the better equipped you will be to develop the art.
Although almost anyone can become a competent instructor, some people will develop into truly
superior instructors. The starting place, however, is the same for all of us--with the basics.
In his text, Instructional Technique, Davies discusses the concepts of efficiency and
effectiveness (Ivor K. Davies, Instructional Technique [New York: McGraw-Hill Publishing
Company, 1981], 22). According to Davies, efficiency is concerned with doing things right while
effectiveness is doing the right things.
Most of us easily recognize efficient instructors. They do things right. They plan their lesson,
prepare the learning environment, conduct proper lesson introductions, ask questions, and use
instructional media material. That, however, does not ensure they are effective. Effectiveness
in instruction is much more than just doing things right; it is a measure of the outcome of
learning. It is what students can do, as a result of instruction, to demonstrate they have met
the objectives of the course.
Ideally, your instruction will be both efficient and effective. Through study and experience,
you can learn to do the right things right.
This chapter presents information on the
characteristics or traits instructors should have as well as information on the duties,
responsibilities, and concerns common to Navy instructors.