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Thought Provoking Questions and Answers to Ask Learners

April 28, 20140 Comments

This week Blaine talks about “Thought Provoking Questions” to ask students during lessons. Do students ever check their blind spot and not really know why? Or do they check the mirrors for the sake of it without looking and seeing? Here are Blaine’s thoughts about getting the student analysing the situation.

As always please leave any comments about what you think as we love hearing from you.


Video Transcription


This week I want to talk about looking and observing; what pupils are looking for, what they are actually seeing and how we can get inside the head of the pupil using thought provoking Q&A.

When I sit in on a Standards Checks or training one of the things I always think that instructors could develop, which is reflected in a letter from the DVSA, is a thought provoking Q&A. For example, we teach our pupils the 6 point check or the POM routine and we see them looking over their shoulders but we don’t actually know what they are looking at. They could be looking at the door pillars or have their eyes closed (unlikely) but even if they are looking, are they observing properly? What are they looking for? Techniques that I would use would be simple Q&A.

Me – “What can you see over there?”

Pupil – “The blue car”

Me –“Ok, so has he got any reverse lights on? Is there anyone in the car? Are there any break lights on?” etc

These sorts of questions give you a bit more detail and idea of what they are actually looking at and it gives them more of an idea of what they should be looking for. Then we can give them more information about what they should observe and why. Other questions could include –

Are there pedestrians around the car?

Is the front door open?

Are there any children’s bicycles or scooters on the ground?

Not only are you asking them what they are seeing but more importantly, you are asking what they are going to do if something happens. If there was a child’s bicycle on the ground you could ask if they can see the child or what they would do if there was a child there.

This is the same with looking in the mirrors. I sat in on lessons this week with other trainers and the classic question of what mirrors are you going to check? And what are you checking for? were asked but left there. What about the follow on questions like what are you going to do if you see a motorcyclist in your mirror? were not asked even though this is the important bit of Q&A.

If your pupil knows to look and they know what they are looking for then that is half of the battle. If they don’t know what to do when they see something then they are less likely to look as there is no real reason as they have no strategy to do anything, regardless of what they see.

I have actually heard people in the DVSA say they are not too worried about the side mirrors as they can’t do anything about it anyway which is not really true. If you are on a roundabout, for example, and you are looking in a left mirror and you see a cyclist the driver could speed up, could slow down or even go round the roundabout again if they are in the right hand lane or there is only one lane. But unless the pupil has those strategies they are very unlikely to put them into place and often become inconsistent with looking because they don’t really get the reason for looking. Whereas if they have got something to do when they see something they are much more likely to look. Mirrors are just one example of that. Particularly with the middle mirror whilst slowing down as they should be looking well ahead and if they see a pedestrian walking towards the curb the pupil should check the mirror. But you need to tell them what they are looking for and then check what they are looking for.

First you need to give them the information. If you see someone close behind you, you need to slow down a bit more so if the pedestrian does run out into the road or something else happens there will not be the need for an emergency stop which means we stop gradually and so will the car behind so hopefully won’t hit us. That is more information – check your mirrors and ease off slightly. It has got the reasons and rational behind it. You can get the pupil to think ‘yeah that is a good point. I’ve not thought of that before’ then they are much more likely to do effective observation as they have a good reason to and the ability to act on what they see rather than just see.

Have a think about this as I can sit here all day and go through loads of examples of different situations. But have a think yourself about giving your pupil the what, why, how and consequences information. Checking that they understand by asking the ‘what are you going to do if….’ Question is very important.

So in conclusion this blog is about digging a bit deeper. Dig a bit deeper when you tell pupils what to do and dig a bit deeper when you check their understanding.

Filed in: Blaines BlogTeaching Learners
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About the Author ()

Blaine Walsh is the owner of, has been a driving instructor trainer for 15 years and a driving instructor for over 20 years. When he first qualified Blaine admits his was not a very good instructor, became disillusioned, was not retaining pupils and not making any money, so he quit full time teaching. After spending time self-reflecting, he had a light bulb moment and realised that he needed to put more explanation, effort and enthusiasm into teaching learners. Since then he has not looked back and is now regarded as one of the top trainers in the country.

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