Medium Altitude Long Endurance Remotely Piloted Aircraft Training: a Pilot Study in Blended Learning


Since April of 2011, research and development efforts between the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and the University of North Dakota (UND) have progressed through the “Science and Technology for Warfighter Training and Aiding.” Cooperative Agreement. One product of these cooperative efforts has been a Heads Down Display (HDD) Menu Trainer. Designed to familiarize students with the layout and manipulation of the HDD menus for either the MQ-1 or MQ-9, a parallel pretest/posttest design was designed to examine the efficacy of this HDD menu trainer as training aid in traditional, blended, and distance pedagogies.

Results of a mixed ANOVA indicated the trainer significantly improved performance from pretest to posttest scores across all groups (p<0.001), however comparing these scores according to instructional intervention (i.e. Tradition­al, Blended, and Distance) found no significant effect. No significant differences were observed between pretest, posttest, or percent change scores according to instructional intervention. Analysis of the same variables with respect to pilot certification revealed that learners holding a Commercial pilot certificate scored significantly higher on the pretest than those with no FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) pilot certification (p<0.05), and learners with no FAA pilot certificate demonstrated significantly higher percent changes from pretest to posttest than learners with Commercial pilot certificates (p<0.05). While, it is clear that the HDD menu trainer has demonstrated effectiveness in improving a student’s ability to navigate and manipulate the MQ-9 menu structure, the subtle differences between instructional methods will require further investigation. Future studies are encouraged to investigate the benefits and effectiveness of each instructional method while controlling for pilot certification.

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