The Demonstration-Performance Method of Teaching


  1. A student-instructor once asked, "If I had time to learn only one method of lesson presentation, which one should I learn?" The answer is the demonstration-performance method. Why? Well, the primary concern of an instructor is training. Training, in large part, is devoted to the development of physical and mental skills, procedures, and techniques. For example, flying aircraft, interpreting blueprints, driving vehicles, welding, building, shooting, repairing, solving problems, using a slide rule, filling out forms - all of these, and many, many more, can be best taught by using the demonstration-performance method.
  2. The method is not new. It may be one of the oldest known methods of instruction. One can imagine the caveman demonstrating to his son the procedure for making the club, and then have him make one.
  3. The demonstration-performance method can be broken down into five basic procedures. These procedures are:
    1. explanation;
    2. demonstration;
    3. student performance;
    4. instructor supervision; and
    5. evaluation.


  1. The explanation and demonstration may be done at the same time, or the demonstration given first followed by an explanation, or vice versa. The skill you are required to teach might determine the best approach.
  2. Consider the following: You are teaching a student how to do a forced landing. Here are your options:
    1. Demonstrate a forced approach and simultaneously give an explanation of what you are doing and why you are doing it; or,
    2. Complete the demonstration with no explanation and then give a detailed explanation of what you have done; or
    3. Give an explanation of what you intend to do and then do it.
  3. You will find that different instructors will approach the teaching of this skill differently. The following represents a suggested approach that appears to work best for most instructors.
    1. On the flight prior to the exercise on forced landings, give a perfect demonstration of a forced landing. It may be better not to talk during this demonstration, since you want it to be as perfect as possible to set the standard for the future performance. There is another advantage of giving a perfect demonstration prior to the forced landing exercise. Your students will be able to form a clearer mental picture when studying the flight manual because they have seen the actual manoeuvre.
    2. The next step would be for you to give a full detailed explanation of a forced landing. During this explanation you would use all the instructional techniques described previously. You must give reasons for what is expected, draw comparisons with things already known and give examples to clarify points. This explanation should be given on the ground using visual aids to assist student learning.
    3. When in the air, give a demonstration, but also include important parts of the explanation. Usually asking students questions about what you are doing or should do, will give them an opportunity to prove they know the procedure, although they have not yet flown it.
    4. After completing the forced landing approach, while climbing for altitude, clear up any misunderstandings the students may have and ask questions.
    5. The demonstration and explanation portion of the demonstration-performance method is now complete and you should proceed to the next part, which is the student performance and instructor supervision.


  1. Student performance and instructor supervision are always carried out concurrently during the initial stages of training. A student should not be allowed to make a major error at this time. Your supervision must be close enough to detect the start of an error and you must correct the student at that point.
  2. the student should be allowed to perform the task in small segments with you providing close supervision of each segment.
  3. Referring to our example of the forced landing consider the following suggestion of how to divide the task into segments:
    1. On student's first attempt:
      1. You the instructor;
        1. select the field, making sure that it is within easy autorotational range;
        2. perform all in-flight checks including look-out.
      2. The student flies the aircraft and concentrates on making the field.
      3. If the student makes a major error, you take control and place aircraft in the correct position, then give student control and continue the approach. (Try to ensure that the student makes the field on the first attempt even if you have to help all the way through.)
    2. On subsequent attempts, depending on the degree of success of the previous attempt, add more items for the student to carry out.
    3. Continue the process until you feel the student can fly the complete manoeuvre alone. You have now completed the student performance and instructor supervision portion of this method and you should now proceed to the evaluation.


  1. The evaluation portion of the demonstration-performance method is where students get an opportunity to prove that they can do the manoeuvre without assistance.
  2. For the simulated forced approach you should tell students that you will be simulating an engine failure and that they are to carry out the entire procedure including all checks and look-out.
  3. While the student is performing this manoeuvre you must refrain from making any comments. Offer no assistance whatsoever, not even grunts or head nods. You must, however, observe the entire manoeuvre very carefully, so that you can analyze any errors that the student may make and debrief accordingly.

    NOTE:  You would interrupt the student's performance, of course, if safety became a factor.

  4. Success or failure during the evaluation stage of the lesson will determine whether you carry on with the next exercise or repeat the lesson.


  1. Give a perfect demonstration or if not practical show finished product. Example: When teaching map preparation, show a map with a cross-country trip all marked out  - students will see the standard expected in preparing their own maps.
  2. Give a step-by-step explanation of the required task - use reasons, examples and comparisons to make the explanation clear.
  3. Have students imitate a step of the skill while you provide close supervision. For example, have students practise the entry to a steep turn until correctly done before going on to the next step.
  4. Continue until the student has imitated each step.
  5. Provide student practice, with assistance as necessary.
  6. Ensure that the amount of time allotted for student practice equals or exceeds the amount of time for the demonstration, explanation, and student performance under very close supervision. Students should take as much time to practise as you take to teach.
  7. Overall rule - while you are demonstrating and explaining, your student listens and observes; while your student is performing, you listen and observe. NEVER ask the student to perform while you are explaining.
  8. Complete the exercise with an evaluation (final check-up) in which students have the opportunity to prove what they can do.
    1. NEVER just explain and demonstrate a skill or procedure for students. ALWAYS have students perform the skill to ensure that the skill or procedure is done properly. STICK WITH THEM UNTIL THE SKILL IS DONE CORRECTLY. For example, a student is about to proceed on a solo cross-country trip and asks you how to fill in the aircraft journey log. Explaining how to do it, even with a demonstration, is no guarantee of student success. Have students tell you how to do it or better still, have them make a practice log entry before departure.