In my previous article we looked at role play in developing the trainee instructor. This month I want to look at and explain how the ORDIT assessment fits in with this area of instructor training.

Method Acting

Role play is the most complex task a trainer has to manage, but it is an important part of the process and a great way of developing the understanding of expectation and a pupil’s needs. Do you remember the pride you felt when, as a new driving instructor, you asked your pupil to turn left at the end of the road, and instinctively knew they were going to turn right? You knew this because your level of skills had moved through the stages of conscious competence.

You had progressed from:
● unconscious incompetence – where you weren’t even aware of your lack of knowledge and skills, to
● conscious incompetence – where you were awkward and clumsy as you worked hard to acquire new knowledge and skills, to
● conscious competence – where you were very aware of the new skills and knowledge you had acquired and were accomplished at delivering these and, finally, to
● unconscious competence – where many of the tasks you needed to deliver were routine and you were able to operate on automatic pilot for these.

Who Done It?

So, in the example above, you instinctively noticed that the pupil’s hand was underneath the indicator rather than on top, and you knew this meant the pupil was likely to indicate right instead of left (assuming the indicator is nearest you, the driving instructor). Similarly, learning how to manage role play safely is a complex skill on many different levels:

1 What is the point? There is no point in role play for its own sake, but it is part of a whole range of possible strategies that you can choose to employ in order to achieve the goal. Therefore, it goes without saying, there has to be a goal, and this is what the trainee driving instructor wants to achieve from this session (or part of the session). You need to assess how the trainee learns best, and how they would like to structure this piece of their learning to gain the most from it.

2 Set-up role play. Imagine you have decided role play is the most appropriate exercise to use on this occasion; you then have to agree the format of it. What type of pupil do you need to play to give the trainee the best possible chance of achieving their goal? How will you set up the role play so that the trainee knows when you are in role, and when you need to break out of role? If you are going to put in faults, how many and what type will help the trainee achieve their goal? Does your route provide the opportunity for the trainee to pull you over, or will they need to wait until the route is finished, and do you actually want the trainee to practise giving feedback or will this detract from the goal? You also need to set out at the beginning who will be responsible for directions.

3 On the move. Once the car is moving, you need to remain aware of the trainee, making sure they are doing as agreed and have not become confused. Make sure you keep to what you agreed to, while assessing if the trainee is engaging with you at the right level. You need to manage risk, making sure you are aware of what’s happening all around, whilst carrying out the role play. You may be playing the pupil, but safety is still your responsibility.

4 Pulled up. Before beginning the role play session, you need to agree whether feedback is part of it, and whether the trainee playing the instructor should give you (as the pupil) the feedback. Then, once out of role, you can elicit feedback from the trainee, as to their performance – what went well, what didn’t go so well and what would they like to work on next time? This will also help you understand whether the role play was an effective exercise, and if the trainee achieved their goal.

Inspector Poirot or Miss Marple

Element 6.6.2 of the National Driver and Rider Training Standard sets out fourteen performance standards that you, the trainer, needs to meet in order to deliver a successful programme of role play. When it comes to ORDIT assessment (Official Register of Driving Instructor Trainers), the trainer’s ability to manage role play is assessed using the following fourteen competences.

You must be able to:
1 Make sure that the trainee instructor is briefed on the learning outcome(s) of the role play
2 Brief the trainee instructor on how you will manage the role play, for example how you will communicate with them during the role play and how you will give feedback
3 Make sure the trainee instructor knows when you are in or out of role
4 Your behaviour must be consistent with the brief you have given
5 Stay in role while the role play is meeting the learning outcome(s), and close the role play when it is not
6 Maintain the focus of the role play on the learning outcome(s)
7 Scan the driving space and plan your driving so that you have all-round awareness at all times
8 Make sure that safe practices are followed while in role, such as
● verbal simulation of high risk faults where possible
● threatening unsafe manoeuvres without actually making the manoeuvre
● portrayal of high risk attitudes that act as a barrier to safe and responsible driving or riding, where appropriate
9 Manage the balance of risk and simulation to prevent overload
10 Adapt fault simulation to match the trainee instructor’s ability
11 Use situations that develop on road to your advantage
12 Show realistic improvement when the trainee instructor identifies and targets a development need
13 Make mental notes so that you can give feedback when out of role
14 Provide accurate and supportive feedback to help the trainee instructor develop good instructional technique and safe practices

Next Month: We will look in more detail at these fourteen ORDIT assessment criteria.