Why barriers to learning cause you to take more lessons than necessary

Barriers to Learning

There are many things that can prevent you from learning to drive well, but by knowing this you can counteract them. There are also things that can help you to learn.
The various aspects will be encountered at different times.

Some can be addressed before the lessons begin
Some while you are actually learning a task
Some after you have had a go.
In order to learn quickly and well we need to
Minimise the unhelpful stuff
Maximise the useful stuff.
Here’s a list of stuff, first the problems that can be caused by you, your instructor, or other factors that need to be addressed.
Then the positive stuff that you and your instructor can use to make things easier
Your Learning Barriers

Which of these might apply to you?

Before the Lesson


Do you want to learn or is someone else making you?
Are you keen to read the rest of this page to help the learning process and save yourself time and money

Knowledge about Learning

Learning is about building pathways in the brain, driving is about using them.
They are as different as building a house and living in it

Understanding of The Driving Test

The test is about demonstrating safe routines, not quick reactions.
Over 50% of instructors don’t fully brief their pupils about the test, which is possibly why over 50% fail

Understanding of What is Meant by ‘Safe’ or ‘Risk Management’

It’s about others feeling safe, not just you not hitting anything.
This is the first thing that many drivers forget after passing their test.

Knowledge about Driving Instructors

Not knowing that there are different grades of instructors and qualities of teaching.
Instructors that teach methodically rather than heuristically give better quality lessons that produce safer drivers and higher pass rates


Causes people to seek the cheapest option, so if a bad choice is made the least money is lost.
It is tricky to see the benefit of quality services rather than quality goods before purchase

Barriers During Lesson


As before

Natural Ability

Poor Hand (and foot) to Eye Co-ordination.
This can be overcome by good instruction


Are there other things that you are thinking about (Extraneous Cognitive Load)
If you can’t fully concentrate you’re unlikely to get the best from yourself or your lesson

Current Habits

Learner’s natural reaction to a familiar similar situation that has non apparent differences.
When driving around a corner, Learners often use inappropriate habits that they have formed by walking around corners


Reaction to instruction that is not in line with what they have learned previously.
Prior knowledge has already burned its way into our belief system and has been reinforcing itself in our subconscious day after day since then

Dwelling on Mistakes

Thinking about what went wrong rather than concentrating on the current (sub)task.
Increases unhelpful cognitive load

Barriers Between Task Practices


Due to inability to perform seemingly simple task.
Usually due to one of the above or a
Quest for Perfection
Needing to be the Best with minimal experience.
Often a problem for high achieving individuals


Failing to say you don’t understand, or asking questions for fear of ‘looking stupid.
It is said that the only ‘stupid’ question is one that isn’t asked

Acceptance of Mediocrity

Ability peaking at ‘good enough’, so that 100% concentration is needed to be ‘good enough’.
If you accept mediocrity while learning it’s likely that your concentration on test will not be at 100% all the time and your mediocre level of performance will sometime lapse to unacceptable performance


Belief that things should always be how you want them.
Drivers with licences don’t have to obey most of the rules as breaking them won’t result in a loss of licence, you can’t drive like that or you won’t get a licence.

Over Estimation of Ability

Low skill individuals tend to overestimate their ability.
This is part of what is known as the Dunning – Kruger effect

Instructor led Barriers

Pre Lesson

Failure to explain Barriers
The Learner needs to know what Barriers there are, to help eliminate them.
Instructors are not taught about cognitive load when training, so very few know how to help reduce it.

During Lesson

Inappropriate Task
Too hard or too easy
Failure to Break Down Tasks
Confusing, or lack of, breakdown of complex task.
Surprisingly, the long accepted cornerstone of driving instruction, Mirror-Signal-Manoeuvre is an example of Confusing Task Breakdown

Curse of Knowledge

Instructor thinking that things are obvious when, to a Learner, they aren’t.
Getting the pupil to look in the right direction to steer is one that many instructor miss out on.

Tone of Voice

Non encouraging, patronising.
Poor instructors often raise their voice when fearful as they have allowed the pupil to get into a potentially dangerous situation that a better instructor wouldn’t.

Insufficient Explanation

So the learner doesn’t understand the reasons for the procedure

Too Detailed Explanation

Diverting focus from the necessities

Wrong Medium

e.g. Verbal explanation or using diagrams where a demonstration would be better.

During Task Practice

Time limited

Causing the Learner to hurry, usually due to late instruction or speed of car
Under Instruction
Causes the Learner to develop their own coping strategies, which are rarely the best

Over Instruction

Fails to allow the Learner to carry out one instruction before the next is given

Bad Instruction

Due to a lesser understanding of the task

Allowing Poor Performance

Due to lack of motivation, such as unenthusiastic pupil, low pay etc.

Between Task Practices

Feedback… Non constructive criticism, badly timed
Germane Load – Promoter of Learning – Helpful / Useful

Learner’s own Promoters

Pre Lesson

Willingness to Prepare… Read, watch videos, note questions etc.
Appreciation of Good Instruction… Understands the benefit of paying for high quality service

During Lesson

Open-mindedness… Willingness to understand and learn counter intuitive procedures
Self Confidence… Knowing that they can and will improve with time
Motivation… Wanting to learn to drive to pass first time, not just have a go at a test
Social Responsibility… Recognising that the roads are a shared resource to be used in a non threatening manner

During Task Practice

Natural Ability… Good Hand (and foot) to Eye Co-ordination
Patience… Happy to repeat the task until it it is done to the required standard
Determination… To reach a high standard

Between Task Practices

Self Criticism… Ability to recognise possibilities for improvement

Instructor led Promoters

Pre Lesson

Encourages Learner to Prepare… Improves understanding of what needs to be learned
Puts Learner at Ease… Explains how things are to be Learned

During Lesson

Appropriate Task… Not too hard or too easy
High degree of Knowledge… Ability to answer questions clearly
Habit changing… Getting the Learner to understand the differences between current habits and best practice
Flexibility… To explain things in different ways
Tone of Voice… Encouraging, non patronising

During Task Practice

Time free… Learning process is unhurried
Correct Instruction… Not too much or too little

Between Task Practices

Feedback… Constructive criticism, sensibly timed