Students commonly enter the training arena without actually meeting established prerequisites.
Learn your students physical capabilities so that you can prevent them from injuring themselves
or other students. More subtle differences exist in aptitude and ability. Aptitude depends on
the students intelligence, inquisitiveness, ambition, reasoning ability, and other mental traits.
Ability is somewhat similar to aptitude but deals more with skills in processing information to
acquire concepts or to master physical skills.
Training is aimed at the center of our target population, the average learner. Since your job
is to keep courses geared to the average learner, you must know as much about the individuals
in the class as possible. Slow learners require your patience and understanding, often forcing
you to devote extra effort toward tutoring, diagnosing specific difficulties, or motivating them
toward success. Fast learners can become classroom assets if you appeal to their superior
knowledge and leadership qualities. They can just as easily turn into liabilities if cast adrift in
a sea of boredom while waiting for their peers to catch up.
Emotional differences also play a major role in training. Almost every class will have
students with personalities ranging from introverted to extroverted. Neither is bad. Most will
be somewhere around the middle of the spectrum. Those at the extremes, however, will require
understanding and special attention.
The extrovert is sociable and outspoken, usually
demonstrating outgoing behavior. You may have some concern of losing control of the class
because of the extroverts take charge nature. Learn to recognize and control the behavior
without squelching the desirable trait of wanting to take an active part. The introvert, on the
other hand, will be shy and nonaggressive.
Do not confuse that with a lack of aptitude or
ability. Draw these students into class activities by using whatever motivational tools you can
muster without giving the appearance of badgering.
Students experiences and backgrounds also play major roles in the makeup of most classes.
Most classes will be made up of students with widely varying backgrounds. As an instructor,
you should be aware of some research recently completed by the American Association of
University Women (AAUW). In The AAUW Report: How Schools Shortchange Girls, t he
research discovered gender bias was still prevalent within our school systems from the pre-school
through college level. Females are simply not encouraged to participate in classrooms, and in
fact, are admonished for behavior such as speaking out or answering incorrectly. Their male
counterparts, however, are rewarded for vocal behavior in the classroom through gaining of the
teachers attention and dismissal of inappropriate behaviors with the old axiom of boys will be
boys. Research has shown that when a male answers a question incorrectly, the teacher will
coach them to the right answer. When a female provides an incorrect answer, the teacher will
give her the right answer. Thus, a female never develops reasoning skills or becomes interested
in reaching beyond a right/wrong response.
Gender bias has many implications for those teaching technology-related courses. While the
gender gap in mathematics achievement is small and declining, the gender gap in science areas
has increased. Boys are not innately superior to girls in quantitative skills. girls math grades
are as high or higher than boys, but boys are likely to outperform girls on standardized math
tests. Math confidence has a stronger link to math achievement than any other variable. As
girls grow up, they lose confidence in their ability to do well in math. Studies have shown that
girls loss of confidence in their math abilities precedes a decline in achievement. Girls who do
well in math tend to have nontraditional views of gender roles.