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Survey Results: Am I a Bad Apple? Quality & Safety by Dive Instructors.

Updated: May 19, 2022

Are scuba diving instructors “cutting corners”?

If so, why? And what do they need to improve the quality of their dive courses?

Following an article by Gareth Lock titled “Do ‘Bad Apples’ Actually Exist?”, the Business of Diving Institute and InDepth magazine conducted a survey among scuba diving instructors. It was a self-assessment and introspection exercise. Here’s the verdict.

Are scuba diving instructors cutting corners?

In their own assessment, 26.4% of scuba diving instructors admit having “cut corners” in their teaching activities. Let it sink for a minute. That is more than one in four!
This seems to be a more significant problem among recreational scuba diving instructors (31.0%) than with tech diving instructors (19.2%). That being said, cutting corners in tech diving can be much more dangerous!
Here are some examples dive instructors have provided:
- Low prices driven by competition were influencing our pricing and we had to find a way to reduce pool time and fit everything in.
- In the beginning of my career as an instructor, I have certified at least 3 students who, in my opinion, needed more practice to be at ease with some core skills.
- Many dive operations I have worked for insist on cutting standards and procedures for profitability. Even dive certification agencies I have dealt with have stated: “as long as the paperwork is good, you’re good. We are not the scuba police.”
- I have cut back on skills to focus on others.
- Time too short to complete the task.
- Simple things like depth standards that are easy to overlook occasionally.
-In a price sensitive market, I used to keep dives at a minimum. Also focusing on checking the box on skills, but not putting them into context.

Which methods do scuba diving instructors use to help prevent them from ‘drifting’ away from safe business practices, industry standards, or laws?

Survey participants could select all that apply.
75.7%: I review safe business practices, industry standards, and laws.
62.9%: I actively seek feedback from colleagues.
42.9%: I co-teach.
35.7%: I have a mentor.
35.7%: I audit courses provided by other instructors.
27.1%: I use a quality evaluation process in addition to the one from my training agency.
24.3%: I ask another instructor to audit & evaluate my teaching.
Between co-teaching, auditing, and having a mentor, it appears that colleagues are a significant part of a support system for quality scuba courses.
Here are some notable comments on this question:
- We increased prices and could afford extra pool time.
- Push back management on cutting corners.
- Preparation before courses using standard operating practices.
- One dive instructor stated the best method to prevent cutting corners was to be a multi-millionaire without an ego!

What are the impediments to scuba diving instructors consistently providing a quality, safe experience to their student-divers?

Survey participants could select all that apply.
Not surprisingly, time (60%) and profitability (40%) were ranking high among impediments to providing quality scuba diving training.
Among the other factors, we noted:
1 - The seriousness of students themselves
2 - Lack of rental gear availability if more training sessions were required
3 - The quality of rental gear
4 - Difficulties in finding available pools
5 - Conflict with shop/management expectations

How much do dive instructors feel ‘ready’ to providing a quality, safe experience in scuba diving courses?

We asked instructors to rate their level of readiness on three fronts: their skills, knowledge, and attitude.
On all three fronts, survey participants believe they were ready or thoroughly ready to provide quality scuba courses. 0% of the participants answered that they were not ready.
In other words, instructors do not believe that the lack of quality in scuba diving training is their fault. It is a consequence of the system, with time limitations and money preoccupations.

Who answered the survey?

134 dive instructors took part in the survey.
The U.S. had the largest contingent of survey participants:
38.2%: USA
26.5%: Europe
10.3%: Canada
83.8% of the scuba diving instructors who took part in the survey were male.

This Blog were writ it by Darcy Kieran

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