In 2019, the HPAC Board of Directors (BoD) initiated a project to survey students completing HPAC ratings seeking their opinions about the training they received. We undertook this project to…
- Offer Students with a means to offer feedback on the quality of instruction they received.
- Provide specific Instructors with feedback on the quality of instruction they provided.
- Gather objective data to support efforts by the BoD and Instructors to improve the quality of instruction.
- Give the BoD objective data as input to decisions and actions related to the practices of individual instructors, especially in the rare cases where disciplinary action is being considered.
We developed a question set based on the Instructor’s Code of Conduct, 22 questions total. Respondents were asked to what extent they agreed with each positive statement regarding their instruction and replied using a 0 (Not at All) to 5 (Completely) scale. The survey was deployed online in English and French on SurveyMonkey.
All students completing a rating of any kind in 2019 were invited to respond via email in 3 phases, in July and September 2019, January 2020. An interim report was shared with the Board, and an overall summary of the feedback was shared with all instructors earlier this year. Each instructor who had students that respond to the survey also received an overall summary of the ratings from their students.
Respondents were promised anonymity. Their individual responses and comments have not and will not be shared with anyone outside of myself as Project Manager on behalf of the Board.
Response Rate: A total of 228 invitations to respond were sent, with 75 responses returned for a response rate of 32.9% overall. There were 68 responses for Paraglider ratings, 7 for Hang Gliders. The typical respondent took less than 6 minutes to complete the survey.
Instructor Count: Evaluations were received with respect to 32 instructors.
Average Overall: The average overall rating for all questions for all instructors was 4.50.
Top Rated Questions Overall: The highest rated questions overall were…
- Q4.2 The “Theoretical Knowledge” requirements for your rating were explained in a way that was clear and understandable to you. 4.80
- Q1.5 Made appropriate safety decisions throughout your training, including cancelling lessons if conditions seemed hazardous. 4.80
- Q2.1 Demonstrated courtesy, respect and objectivity in their dealings with students. 4.77
Lowest Rated Questions Overall: The lowest rated questions overall were…
- Q4.5 For H1/2 or P1/2 ratings, the HPAC Student Logbook was helpful as a way track and record your accomplishments throughout your training. 3.22
- Q2.3 Recognized your right as a student to consult other instructors and/or schools. 3.99
- Q3.3 Maintained confidentiality as required. 4.14
It makes sense to focus on 1-2 ratings in particular because…
- This is the bulk of the training conducted.
- Training at this level is the students’ first introduction to the sport and our community.
- Habits and impressions formed here are likely to persist into a flying career.
Response Rate: 51 responses were received from those completing 1-2 ratings. Just 5 of those were for HGs.
Average Overall: The average overall rating for all questions for all instructors increased to 4.63 for students completing a 1-2 rating, compared to 4.50 for all respondents.
Top Rated Questions – 1-2: The highest rated questions for this group were…
- Q1.5 Made appropriate safety decisions throughout your training, including cancelling lessons if conditions seemed hazardous. 4.96
- Q1.6 Ensured all students, including you, used appropriate safety equipment (e.g. helmets, footwear, etc.) at all times during instruction. 4.90
- Q3.1 Acted as a courteous ambassador for our sport to landowners and the public. 4.84
Lowest Rated Questions Overall: The lowest rated questions for this group were…
- Q4.5 For H1/2 or P1/2 ratings, the HPAC Student Logbook was helpful as a way track and record your accomplishments throughout your training. 3.92
- Q2.3 Recognized your right as a student to consult other instructors and/or schools. 4.02
- Q3.3 Maintained confidentiality as required. 4.12
According to the numbers, the responding students largely enjoyed their instruction and found their instructors to be competent and concerned for their safety. Comments provided by respondents supported that conclusion. As a self-regulated community, it is important we know this and continue our efforts to maintain a system of high-quality instruction.
The current evaluation provides fair, objective data. We need to be patient though. So far there are too few responses to draw any real conclusions about specific instructors or make sweeping changes to our instructional practices. Trends over time will be more telling. All instructors have been asked to encourage their students to complete the evaluation. And, if you are asked to respond as a student, please take the opportunity to do so.
The ratings and comments together highlight the danger of reacting too quickly when we receive complaints from individual students or hear observations of instructors from people not directly involved in training. For example, we received a comment from one student that suggested another instructor’s students could not launch and were unsafe. However, comments from the students directly involved with the instructor in question reported their instructor was “fantastic” and “always put safety first”.
We all can be poor observers of anything beyond our own experience. As a Board, we believe any feedback we receive cannot simply be taken at face value. Further inquiry into the specifics of the situation is a necessary step before drawing any conclusions or taking action.
There where instances where immediate action did seem appropriate. For example, we have students reporting their instructor did not use the student logbook for ratings where the SOP suggests it should be mandatory. We have followed up directly with the specific instructors involved in these cases.
Proposed Next Steps
- Edits to the Survey: Based on feedback received, edits or adds have been made to the evaluation.
- Continue the Program in 2020: The original objectives are still valid, and with more data we will be better positioned to act on issues raised by the feedback.
- Ongoing Communication: 2020 results will be shared with the Board, instructors, and the membership.
If you have questions, concerns, or suggestions regarding the HPAC Student Evaluation, please contact Randy Parkin: VicePresident@HPAC.ca, email@example.com, or 403.607.9888.