CCE Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Computing Technology in Education (DCTE)


College of Engineering and Computing


Laurie Dringus

Committee Member

Martha Snyder

Committee Member

Ling Wang


glass flight deck system, instructional design, learnability, pilot training, scenario-based training, usability, Instructional design, Aerospace engineering, Education technology


In the aviation industry, digitally produced and presented flight, navigation, and aircraft information is commonly referred to as glass flight decks. Glass flight decks are driven by computer-based subsystems and have long been a part of military and commercial aviation sectors. Over the past 15 years, the General Aviation (GA) sector of the aviation industry has become a recent beneficiary of the rapid advancement of computer-based glass flight deck (GFD) systems.

While providing the GA pilot considerable enhancements in the quality of information about the status and operations of the aircraft, training pilots on the use of glass flight decks is often delivered with traditional methods (e.g. textbooks, PowerPoint presentations, user manuals, and limited computer-based training modules). These training methods have been reported as less than desirable in learning to use the glass flight deck interface. Difficulties in achieving a complete understanding of functional and operational characteristics of the GFD systems, acquiring a full understanding of the interrelationships of the varied subsystems, and handling the wealth of flight information provided have been reported. Documented pilot concerns of poor user experience and satisfaction, and problems with the learning the complex and sophisticated interface of the GFD are additional issues with current pilot training approaches.

A case study was executed to explore ways to improve training using GFD systems at a Midwestern aviation university. The researcher investigated if variations in instructional systems design and training methods for learning glass flight deck technology would affect the perceptions and attitudes of pilots of the learnability (an attribute of usability) of the glass flight deck interface. Specifically, this study investigated the effectiveness of scenario-based training (SBT) methods to potentially improve pilot knowledge and understanding of a GFD system, and overall pilot user experience and satisfaction.

Participants overwhelmingly reported positive learning experiences from scenario-based GFD systems flight training, noting that learning and knowledge construction were improved over other training received in the past. In contrast, participants rated the usability and learnability of the GFD training systems low, reporting various problems with the systems’ interface, and the learnability (first-time use) of the complex GFD system. However, issues with usability of the GFD training systems did not reduce or change participant attitudes towards learning and mastering GFD systems; to the contrary, all participants requested additional coursework opportunities to train on GFD systems with the scenario-based flight training format.