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«E-6A Aviation Maintenance Training Curriculum Evaluation: A Case Study by Donald Wayne Taylor A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the ...»

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© Copyright 1998

Donald Wayne Taylor


Aviation Maintenance Training

Curriculum Evaluation:

A Case Study


Donald Wayne Taylor

A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the

degree of

Doctor of Education

University of Washington

Approved by

Chairperson of Supervisory Committee

Program Authorized

to Offer Degree


Doctoral Dissertation

In presenting this dissertation in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Doctoral degree at the University of Washington, I agree that the Library shall make its copies freely available for inspection. I further agree that extensive copying of this dissertation is allowable only for scholarly purposes, consistent with "fair use" as prescribed in the U.S. Copyright Law. Requests for copying or reproduction of this dissertation may be referred to University Microfilms, 1490 Eisenhower Place, P.O. Box 975, Ann Arbor, MI 48106, to whom the author has granted "the right to reproduce and sell (a) copies of the manuscript in microform and/or (b) printed copies of the manuscript made from microform."

Signature Date University of Washington Abstract E-6A Aviation Maintenance Training

Curriculum Evaluation:

A Case Study by Donald Wayne Taylor Chairperson of the Supervisory Committee: Professor William Winn Department of Curriculum and Instruction This case study investigated the quality of maintenance training for the Navy’s E-6A aircraft.

Initially, program managers were concerned with the instructional effectiveness of panel trainers, which are large-scale working models of aircraft subsystems. One proposed solution was to migrate the instruction supported by the panel trainers to computer-based training (CBT).

However, there was no way of knowing whether CBT would be more instructionally effective without investigating how the panel trainers contribute to student learning. Since instructional components cannot be evaluated in isolation, the study was expanded to measure how well the overall curriculum was to meeting program goals and objectives.

Using the CIPP model, the evaluation was designed to generate objective data concerning curriculum inputs, the instructional process, and training transfer. Data were gathered by means of classroom observations, interviews and surveys of various stakeholders. Analysis of the data indicated that, although the training curriculum covered the appropriate technical content, entrylevel maintenance technicians did not possess the knowledge and skills necessary to adequately perform the duties and tasks associated with the job.

The evaluation concludes by making a series of recommendations that are based on the current theoretical understanding of how learners construct knowledge and build skills. Since learning theorists believe that instruction that is situated in authentic contexts is considerably more meaningful for learners, the recommendations call for alternative instructional approaches that rely on problem-based learning approaches presented in the context of the job. For example, learners would practice maintaining the aircraft by means of computer-based maintenance simulations that provide them with an explicit troubleshooting model in order to practice technical problem solving. Practice in the open frame maintenance trainers would also be situated in realistic troubleshooting scenarios.

Remaining cognizant of the client’s interest in leveraging training technologies, there is a discussion devoted to the development of performance systems that could potentially support maintenance activities at the squadrons. Included in this section is a discussion of performance system development and a description of the elements that might be included in such a system.

–  –  –

Figure 1: Students have the requisite entry skills….…………………………..…….50 Figure 2: Students can locate components…….…………………………………….53 Figure 3: Students understand how systems interact………………………………..54 Figure 4: Students get enough lab time…………….………………………………..56 Figure 5: Students need more hands-on lab time……………………………………57 Figure 6: Flight line duty would be beneficial………………………………………65 Figure 7: Entry-level techs can locate components…………………………………68 Figure 8: Understanding system interaction………………………………………...69 Figure 9: Sufficient lab time………………………………………………………...71 Figure 10: Know how to use technical publications………………………………..72 Figure 11: Know how to use test equipment……………………………………….73 Figure 12: Knowledge of NALCOMIS…………………………………………….74 Figure 13: Entry-level techs know the job………………………………………….75 List of TABLES Number Page Table 1: Stakeholders………………………………………………………….6 Table 2: The novice to expert continuum……………………………………..17 Table 3: E-6A maintenance training tracks…………………………………...31 Table 4: Student/Instructor critical issues……………………………...……..47 Table 5: Technician/Supervisor critical issues……….……………………….63 Table 6: EPSS human-computer interactions……………………………….120 GLOSSARY AFB – Air Force Base.

AMTCS – Aviation Maintenance Training Continuum System.

ARB – Academic Review Board.

‘A’ School – Location where enlisted personnel receive basic occupational training.

ASVAB – Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery tests.

CBT – Computer-Based Training.

CIPP – Context, Input, Process, and Product Evaluation Model.

CNO – Chief of Naval Operations.

‘C’ School – Location where enlisted personnel receive aircraft specific training.

CTL – Core Task List.

Gripe or Fault – Maintenance problem usually reported by the aircrew.

HR – Human Resources.

ISD – Instructional Systems Design.

Mech – Aviation Machinist’s Mate. Responsible for maintaining aircraft engines.

MOMI - Manual of Operation and Maintenance Instructions for Panel Trainers.

MTL – Master Task List.

MTRR – Maintenance Training Readiness Review.

NALCOMIS - Naval Aviation Logistics Command Management Information System.

NAMTRA – Navy Aviation Maintenance Training.

NAS – Naval Air Station.

NAVAIR – Naval Air Systems Command NAVAIR PMA-271 – Program Management for the E-6 program.

NAVAIR PMA-205-8F – Training Systems Program Management for the E-6.

NEC - Navy Enlisted Classification.

OJT – On-The-Job Training.

Open Frame Trainers – Actual subsections of the E-6 used to practice skills.

OPNAV – Office of Naval Operations.

Organizational Maintenance – Aircraft maintenance that occurs on the flight line.

Panel Trainer – Working model of E-6 system used to illustrate operation.

PBL – Problem Based Learning.

SME – Subject Matter Expert.

TACAMO – Take Charge and Move Out.

TCCD – Training Course Control Document.

VLF - Very Low Frequency.

–  –  –

The author wishes to thank Professor William Winn for his constant support and boundless generosity. In addition, thanks to Mr. Dennis Byrne for his assistance and contributions. Finally, a special thanks to Mr. Jim Keller, former E-6 Training Systems Program Manager, for giving me the opportunity to conduct the curriculum evaluation that serves as the basis for this dissertation.

–  –  –

The Navy currently operates two squadrons of the E-6A. There are eight aircraft per squadron.

Personnel for each squadron include an administrative unit, aircrews, and a maintenance unit that is responsible for both flight line and some hangar maintenance activities. Maintenance personnel specialize on maintaining specific systems onboard the aircraft. For example, personnel with an avionics rating would concentrate exclusively on maintaining communication systems aboard the E-6A.

Interestingly, instead of being sited at a naval air station, flight and training facilities for personnel operating and maintaining the E-6A are located at Tinker Air Force Base (AFB) in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The reason for this is historical. Originally, airborne communications, even communications involving Navy submarines, was the province of the U.S. Air Force. With the deployment of the E-6A, the Navy now handles its own submarine communications, while the US Air Force (USAF) still maintains a fleet of EC-135 (Boeing 707aircraft to handle USAF communications with submarines, strategic bombers and landbased intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) forces. Although the Navy and US Air Force maintain separate flight and staff facilities for their respective programs at Tinker, there are plans to eventually phase out the EC-135 and transfer its mission to the E-6 platform.

Located at Tinker Air Force Base near Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, the Navy’s E-6A (Boeing 707-320) Maintenance Training ‘C’ School is operated by the Naval Air Maintenance Training Group (NAMTRA), Detachment 1080. NAMTRA instructors are petty officers, usually E-5 or above, who are selected for this duty based on their knowledge of E-6A systems or may be assigned to NAMTRA from another platform based on NAMTRA’s need for additional instructors.

The student population consists of two groups; the majority are entry-level technicians who are receiving their initial training on the platform prior to assignment to an E-6A squadron.

The other student group are sailors transitioning from the fleet to a new job or NEC (Navy Enlisted Classification) within the E-6 community. The typical class size varies from four to ten students. Student throughput at the schoolhouse averages about 200 graduates per year.

The training curriculum consists of 16 major courses supporting nine training tracks or "pipelines". Depending on the training pipeline, the trainee can specialize in airframe/hydraulic systems, avionics, mission avionics, flight engineer, communications operator, environmental/safety systems, electrical and instrument systems, reel (antenna) operation and maintenance, or powerplants. Course lengths vary from a two-week wire repair course to up to six months for the avionics courses.

Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) maintenance training policymakers and NAMTRA have recently reorganized courses into initial and career tracks. Initial courses in each pipeline are designed to train junior enlisted personnel who are in their first tour of duty in the Navy. The initial course technical content is designed to familiarize the trainee with component location and function and system operation for the equipment s/he will work on. Career courses are targeted towards the fleet returnee or current E-6 maintenance technicians. Both of these student groups attending advanced training are more senior enlisted personnel who plan to make a career in the Navy. These courses go into greater depth about systems aboard the aircraft and are designed to provide the learner with extensive practice in troubleshooting as well. With the exception of one course, all of the pipelines are designed to provide students with training in organizational level maintenance. Organizational maintenance often involves preventative maintenance and/or the repair or replacement of aircraft system components on the flight line. Civilian contractors are responsible for most of the intermediate and depot level maintenance activities, which tend to be even more technically complex and could include removal and replacement of entire aircraft systems.

Casual classroom observations indicate that the instructional method most favored by instructors is lecture and some demonstration. Teaching aids include use of overhead transparencies, wall charts, photographic mock-ups, and panel trainers. The panel trainers are working models of aircraft subsystems used by instructors in the classroom to demonstrate system operation and fault isolation procedures.

In addition to the panel trainers used in classroom instruction, the practice labs utilize a number of maintenance trainers, including high bay or open-frame trainers. All trainers are fully functional subsections of the E-6. Students use the trainers to practice preflight and maintenance procedures. The program appears to be well endowed from a training hardware standpoint.

Trainee assessment is based on a series of objective, criterion-referenced tests, which are administered after the completion of each instructional unit. These tests can be either objective paper and pencil tests or practical tests that make use of the panel or open bay trainers. Students are expected to score a minimum of 75% correct in order to move on to the next training phase.

If a student fails to score a passing grade, they are offered remedial instruction and the opportunity to retest. Remedial instruction can take the form of group study with a more senior class member, study with the class instructor, or the student may study with an instructor not currently teaching a class. The expectation is that the student will use the additional tutoring to catch up with the rest of the class within a week or two. Should a student performance continue at a less than acceptable level, an Academic Review Board (ARB) may be convened to meet with the student in order to discuss his/her difficulties and make recommendations regarding the student’s future in the program. Usually composed of the Officer in Charge, the Senior Chief in charge of Instruction, the student’s instructor and several other instructors, the ARB may recommend counseling, remediation, retesting or dismissal from the program and reassignment to other duties depending on the outcome of the inquiry.

Upon successful completion of their studies, newly graduated maintenance technicians are assigned (depending upon their training track) as either aircrew aboard the E-6 or to one of the maintenance shops at one of two TACAMO (i.e., "Take Charge and Move Out.") squadrons.

Both squadrons, VQ-3 and VQ-4, are co-located with the NAMTRA schoolhouse at Tinker Air Force Base.

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