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Trainer interventions as instructional strategies in air traffic control training

Inka Koskela (Department of Social Research, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland)
Hannele Palukka (Faculty of Economics and Administration, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland)

Journal of Workplace Learning

ISSN: 1366-5626

Article publication date: 5 July 2011




This paper aims to identify methods of guidance and supervision used in air traffic control training. It also aims to show how these methods facilitate trainee participation in core work activities.


The paper applies the tools of conversation analysis and ethnomethodology to explore the ways in which trainers and trainees act and interact in training situations. The data consist of the video recordings (total 38 hours) and ethnographic material gathered at a vocational institute for aviation and in two aerodrome control tower units.


The trainers used five different instructional strategies with which they guided and controlled the trainees' actions. In simulator training, learning was structured as a process through which the procedural knowledge possessed by the expert controllers was transferred to the trainees through interventions such as orders, test questions and additions. As the trainees progressed to the on‐the‐job training phase, interaction evolved from being trainer‐driven to trainer‐guided. The trainees' performance was fine‐tuned and guided towards local practices of particular work position by means of instructions and information deliveries.

Practical implications

The simulator training and on‐the‐job training appear as two distinctive forms of vocational training with their own aims. In order to improve the quality of the training, it is suggested that greater attention should be given to the ways in which these two separate areas of learning could be better reconciled.


This ethnomethodological study on training interaction complements the understanding of instructional strategies used at different stages of air traffic control training. It is proposed that research into the local and social production of training interaction can shed useful light on the complexities of workplace learning and training interaction, providing a novel perspective for those engaged in practice of vocational education.



Koskela, I. and Palukka, H. (2011), "Trainer interventions as instructional strategies in air traffic control training", Journal of Workplace Learning, Vol. 23 No. 5, pp. 293-314.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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