The Heads Down Display (HDD) Menu Trainer – a stand-alone software trainer – was developed to familiarize students in Remotely Piloted Aircraft training with the layout and manipulation of the HDD menus for either the MQ-1 or MQ-9. Preliminary work by Waller et al. (2016) established the efficacy of the HDD Menu Trainer in improving student performance from pretest to posttest scores across several modalities (i.e. traditional, blended, and distance). Recognizing that students holding pilot certification scored higher in some aspects of the HDD Menu Trainer, this study sampled students across a curriculum to assess whether performance with the HDD Menu Trainer would differ across modalities (i.e. traditional, blended, and distance) when FAA pilot certification was controlled.

Results of a mixed factorial ANCOVA indicated the effectiveness of the HDD menu trainer once more through a main within-subjects effect of performance and performance was again higher for students holding an FAA pilot certificate than for those without. However, modality failed to demonstrate a significant interaction effect with student performance from pretest to posttest. These results affirm that even outside the variation which should be attributed to a student’s pilot certification, the HDD Menu Trainer demonstrates equal effectiveness when used in blended and distance modalities. These results support several prior works finding blended learning applications to be at least as effective as other modalities.

As blended, flipped, and hybrid learning models are increasingly expected within higher education curriculums, future work is anticipated in the construct of student engagement (Borup et al., 2020; Halverson & Graham, 2019).