The aviation industry forecasts an exceptionally high demand of more than 600,000 new pilots worldwide over the next 20 years. Women are significantly underrepresented in the pilot population worldwide with a proportion of less than 6% female pilots (4.6% in Austria). Research on ab initio flight training shows that women and men benefit differently from teaching methods and media. As the potential of Augmented Learning for flight training is being explored, it is crucial for the new teaching concepts to be designed and tested in a way that promotes equal opportunities for women and men.
In the project GenIAL, the Institute of Mechanics and the Institute of Engineering and Business Informatics at Graz University of Technology, together with representative Austrian flight training organizations, are investigating gender-specific preferences and needs as well as technical concepts of augmented learning in flight training. In a preliminary study, gender-specific limitations and strengths in basic and advanced flight training will be explored through interviews with instructors, flight students and professional pilots of both genders (Study 1). In workshops with representatives of leading Austrian flight schools, engineers and psychologists of Graz University of Technology the data from the preliminary study will be used for specifying parts of the syllabi that require a gender-sensitive revision of teaching methods. In addition, the potential of new augmented reality technologies will be examined for outlining a research agenda for gender-relevant teaching methods (Study 2). In experiments with test persons of both genders innovative flight training concepts will be evaluated and compared in an augmented reality and in a conventional learning environment (Study 3). Expected benefits of Augmented Learning are more enjoyable learning experiences through interactive visualizations and improved skill acquisition.
The results of this research project will be a research and development agenda for future flight training and a proof of concept for the use of Augmented Reality. The results will be used for designing new teaching concepts for future flight training and to ensure that learning preferences of both sexes are considered. By using innovative teaching concepts that promote equal opportunities for women and men, the aviation industry will be able to attract and retain the best talent.