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Ideal student to instructor ratio?

Discussion in 'Business of Diving Institute' started by CAPTAIN SINBAD, Jan 29, 2020.

  1. CAPTAIN SINBAD

    CAPTAIN SINBAD Divemaster Candidate

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Woodbridge VA
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    Question for instructors. I understand that agency standards can be quite generous in terms of student to instructor ratios but if you were teaching a class by yourself without using a DM or an Assistant Instructor, how many students would you be comfortable in managing at the same time?
     
  2. Graeme Fraser

    Graeme Fraser Tech Instructor

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Narnia
    849
    1,409
    93
    Depends on the course, but generally if you leave aside commercial viability and just consider quality of instruction, I'd have to say 2:1. 1:1 doesn't enable students to work together as a team, whilst more dilutes hands on tuition.
     
    RyanT likes this.
  3. Graeme Fraser

    Graeme Fraser Tech Instructor

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Narnia
    849
    1,409
    93
    Sorry, I should have read your post more carefully. I'd be comfortable with up to 4 (conditions and course dependant), but still 2 for best outcome. However, this side of the Atlantic we're legally obliged to have a safety diver (i.e Certified Assistant).

    Needless to say I'm paid by the course, not the student :).
     
  4. shurite7

    shurite7 Dive Shop

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: In transit
    1,028
    447
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    2:1 is the preferred. I've had 8:1 in open water several times, all went well and everyone had a great time. Groups of 4 or more to 1 tend to develop camaraderie, while 2:1 allows for more individual time. The two factors that determine if I am willing to take a group or keep it small are the students capabilities/preparedness and the water conditions. If the ration is greater than 2:1 then an assistant is preferred.
     
  5. tbone1004

    tbone1004 Technical Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Greenville, South Carolina, United States
    17,394
    9,461
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    1:1 team:instructor. 2:1 diver to instructor, maybe 3:1 in weird circumstances though I advise against 3-man teams for training.

    That rule stays with qualified assistants. i.e. 1 assistant, then 2 total teams, 2 assistants, 3 teams, etc. This is OW only, pool is different.
    You always play man:man coverage instead of zone coverage when in open water. If a team has to go up, you need to be able to manage both divers. You only have two hands, so you can only physically maintain contact with 2 divers if sh!t hits the fan. 3:1 is the rare exception, but never multiple teams.
    I also disagree with teaching solo courses for OW, and Cave where they need to not only learn to dive as a buddy team with someone at their own level, but also learn how to overcome some of the bonehead things new buddies are prone to doing. Having the comfort factor of an instructor as a buddy is counterproductive IMO. I'll teach solo courses to certain people in certain circumstances, but if I have a choice, it's a buddy pair. Most other courses where you are learning new skills, I do actually think that teaching solo is better since you can direct attention of the instructor *intro to tech, CCR, DPV, etc*. Specialty type courses don't really benefit from that kind of attention, so getting to buddy pairs is more lucrative for the instructor and usually more fun for the students *AOW, Rescue, Trimix, etc.*.

    I obviously don't teach for a shop....
     
  6. CAPTAIN SINBAD

    CAPTAIN SINBAD Divemaster Candidate

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Woodbridge VA
    2,799
    1,025
    113
    Thanks for the responses guys. If I may rephrase this question, what is the maximum number of Open Waters you think you can teach without an assistant?
     
  7. tbone1004

    tbone1004 Technical Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Greenville, South Carolina, United States
    17,394
    9,461
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    loaded question. If I teach OW the way I want to teach it, I can literally only teach one buddy team at a time because the last 3 dives are navigation based and they are diving as a buddy team with me watching from above and theoretically 0 interaction with them.
    If I had to teach a dive shop course where there is no actual independent diving? It all depends on the students and how prepared I'm able to get them in the pool. I can handle up to 20 at a time in a pool, and if they are as prepared as the students I'm used to when they get to OW, and I'm teaching dive shop style where it is all "follow me" type stuff, and I was in good visibility, and the conditions were benign *no surface conditions, no current, etc*, then I MAY be willing to take 8. To me the risk is too high though, so I won't ever take more than a buddy team on my own unless the dive plan is to be stationary *i.e. hover over this platform and perform a bunch of skills*.
     
  8. Scott

    Scott Technical Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
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    I like OW classes at 4:1 for some reason but there are plenty of variables that could cause it to decrease.
    Which dive number am I conducting, conditions :rolleyes:, student ability and mindset o_O. My mood.:facepalm:
     
  9. shurite7

    shurite7 Dive Shop

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: In transit
    1,028
    447
    83
    There are issues with this as well. When I was going through my DM training, I asked several instructors what they considered to be a large class. All of them stated two. Their answers didn't make sense, until I started teaching and understanding risk management. Two or four are the amount I like, with one DM per buddy team.
     
  10. RainPilot

    RainPilot OC/CCR Instructor Trainer Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: UAE
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    What Graeme said, really.

    1:1 loses some value with a comparable skill buddy, but great for a bespoke course experience.
    2:1 allows the team to act like they would post-cert, without much compromise in attention
    3:1 doable but usually means getting someone to act as a buddy, I do not like being the actual buddy on a course
    4:1 is about as far as I am comfortable controlling in the water. I get tired from the head-on-a-swivel required.

    More than that , an assistant is really the only way to go. I have done 8 OW students on my own, right after my IDC because the shop said it would be fine. They were, I wasn't and I never did that again.

    More than 4, and positive control becomes an issue, leading to the easy way out of weighting the hell out of them so they stay where you put them. This is not how I want to teach. A "never touch the bottom" course really caps out at 4 for me.

    The SNSI buoyancy bar ameliorates that to an extent but I still wouldn't do more than 4 neutrally buoyant, personally, my skills at controlling and predicting students are not up to that challenge.

    Something I am finding myself thinking about a lot lately, and bringing up on a wide range of topics, is this:
    Just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should do something.
     
    Graeme Fraser likes this.

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