Driving Lesson Phases.


Driving Lesson Phases: the stages of learning to drive.

As lessons progress, more and more skill elements will be introduced. As pupils accumulate more driving skills they move through a series of driving lesson phases. Moving from one learning phase in driving, to another, is determined by various factors.

One factor that enables progression from one learning phase to another is moving from guided driving practice to prompted practice, or from prompted driving practice to independant driving.


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Guided or controlled practice is one element of teaching in the first phase of learning to drive. In this lesson phase the instructor talks the learner through every operation of driving the car. At this stage the learner will be guided every step of the way until they have gained some confidence.

Moving from guided to prompted driving practice in a particular skill element is one way of identifying that learning is progressing to the next driving lesson phase for that skill element. In this next lesson stage, the instructor gives less guidance, and focuses more on asking questions and prompting the learner to think about how to handle the situation that they are dealing with; be it a roundabout, a junction or a stop sign. This phase involves the learner progressing toward independent thought with assistance from the instructor, and requires the learner to demonstrate the ability to make more decisions when driving.

Independent driving is the final stage in learning. This driving lesson phase can take a while, as it involves a high level of observational and planning skills, across many skill elements, to demonstrate competent defensive driving. In this phase the instructor will reduce the amount of prompting to a minimum and allow the pupil to act and think more independently in all areas, encouraging the pupil to further develop their driving skills and their decision-making skills.


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It would be great, when learning a lot of new skills, if we could simply progress at the same rate through each and every stage, moving from one distinct driving lesson phase to the next. But it doesn't work out quite as simply as that when you're learning to drive.


For Example.

When you first learn to turn left into roads, and emerge left at T-junctions, with a bit of guided practice you soon progress to carrying out this skill element with a little less help from the instructor, and acting more on 'prompting' than 'guidance'. After a while, and with lots more practice, these left turns should be accomplished with little or no help from the instructor. But before that, right turns will be introduced into the lessons! At the stage when right turns are introduced, you will find that you can manage left turns with only a bit of prompting, but need full talk through guidance when turning right because you're crossing two lanes of traffic, not just joining one. So, you'll be in two driving lesson phases at the same time, for two different skill elements, being assisted slightly (prompted)for one skill element, and fully guided for the other.


This kind of overlapping of phases will happen a lot at the beginning and in the early stages of learning to drive. But as you progress through your lessons you will be able to use the skills learned in previous topic areas and apply them in a new, or different way to a new skill element.


A good example of this is when you learn your driving manoeuvres.

When you start to learn the driving manoeuvres, it's probably best to start with "turn in the road". When carrying out this manoeuvre you will learn how to control the car in a confined space, using clutch control and the reverse gear. The 3 main skills learned during this exercise are control, observation and accuracy. Once you progress on to the other reversing exercises you may still need to be 'guided' at first for each new one but you will still use the same 3 main skill elements that you learned when developing the "turn in the road" skill - i.e. 'control', 'observation' and 'accuracy'. You'll just use them in a different way each time. So, by the time you're being fully guided in how to carry out the third manoeuvre (reverse parallel park), you'll only be needing slight prompting when doing both 'turn in the road' and 'the left hand reverse'.


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You will always need 'full guidance' in every new topic covered in your lessons but, through controlled practice, you will build on your skills and progress from fully guided, to prompted practice, and finally to driving independently in each topic area.


During the learning process as your driving skills improve and, with this, you begin to drive more independently in most areas, your instructor will still be prepared to 'prompt' or even 'guide' you in any driving situation that requires it. But, with regular, consistent lessons there will be steady progress through each driving lesson phase, in each skill element, until you're a fully independent driver.

Then you'll almost be ready for your driving test! But first, your instructor will conduct a practice test with you to assess your driving in a test situation. So, check out our next page, the Mock Test page, to see how mock tests can help you to get prepared for your driving test, and can help your instructor to identify specific areas that you need to focus on improving in the run-up to your test date.


We hope this page has been of help to you.

If you have any enquiries, or you would like to book driving lessons, please contact us . We'd be happy to help.




Antonine Driving School , for a DSA Approved Driving Instructor.

Please click on the DSA logo below to see the DSA's advice on 'choosing a driving instructor'.


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