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Give them a Gold Star on their “Driver Record”

Gold StarIt always seemed like common sense to me for learner drivers to keep a record of their progress towards a full driving licence. I guess it was because when I started as an Instructor with BSM we were all encouraged to make a record of our pupils’ progress that the learner kept.

I’m no psychologist, although I have listened to a few over the years, but the theory that someone has to think about a learned behaviour in order for that learning to transfer from the short term memory to the long – and become learned – seems to me to make a lot of sense.

The further theory that to encourage a learner when they do well gets them to think, after the lesson, more about the things they had done correctly rather than dwell on the items they got wrong. Thereby encouraging memory retention of their successes rather than dwelling on their mistakes seemed obvious to me.

I had heard of trainers who gave learners sweets when they did well but that always seemed to me a little transient to me so when someone suggested sticking a star on the pupils record when they had done something good and a gold star when they had done something really well I thought it sounded good but was a bit unsure, after all wasn’t that what they did with young children in primary schools?

It was a winner in so many ways:

  • The learners loved the attention and did think about their successes
    • They told their mates which helped attract business
  • They told their parents
    • the effect, particularly on teenage boys, who are often trying to assert their independence whilst still craving their mothers approval was particularly noticeable
    • the parents told other parents which was great – free – marketing for me
  • Learners tried harder because they wanted to be rewarded

The star sticking also supported the well established teaching principles of

  • Catch them doing something right – Positive reinforcement
    • Be positive – optimistic – constructive – helpful – encouraging – upbeat – supportive
    • Not negative – pessimistic – destructive – unsympathetic – discouraging, – downbeat

Now DVSA are inviting ADIs to take part in a survey Driver’s Record for Learner Drivers: your views needed” They want help to review the current record  and identify any areas for improvement.

I urge all ADIs to take part if you don’t voice your opinion your ideas will never be heard. You can view the existing “Drivers Record” here.

It must be about fifteen years ago that the DfT published a Road Safety Research Report about the Trial of what was then called the Learner-Driver Logbook. The report had been produced by Ross Silcock Limited in association with BITER as part of a contract placed by the then Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions some years earlier.

The following are extracts from the reports Executive Summary

  • Overall, ADIs were slightly more in favour of the Logbook than against: pupils were strongly in favour.
  • The overall first time pass rate of Logbook users was 79%. The large majority of these were 17 years old, a group for whom, nationally, there is a higher first time pass rate than for all Test candidates, at 52.4%. Even taking this into account, using statistical tests it was found that the higher first time pass rate of logbook users was significantly different from the national rate for 17 year olds.
  • The Trial has not indicated any reason why the Logbook, fundamentally in its present form but subject to some alterations, should not be introduced more formally at the national level.

These are some extracts from the reports Executive Summary

  • remove the need for learners to write comments in the Lesson Records boxes but ensure that ADIs and learners understand the need for constructive discussion prior to the ADI writing any comments.
  • change the concept of ‘Private Practice’ to one of ‘Driving Experience’ and require, in the Logbook, only that the conditions under which this driving has taken place be recorded without the need to write comments.
  • undertake a survey to establish why over one-third of learners do not currently take ‘Private Practice’.
  • subject to any changes in the trainee licence system, and to the chosen means of implementing a national Logbook scheme, consider ways of better informing learners of the trainee licence system.
  • the Logbook and its use should be considered as an appropriate topic within any Continuing Professional Development programme being recommended.

I remember in the early part of the 2000s compulsory log books were a foregone conclusion – that never happened. Most ADIs who try them agree they work well but generally don’t use them because they say pupils forget to bring them to lessons.  Maybe now its the time to produce electronic online “Drivers Records” but I think they should have the ability for the trainer to award the occasional gold star.

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