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On-Water Standards, Theory and Practice

On-Water Instruction and Education

There are many different ingredients associated with helping individuals learn how to engage in safe and enjoyable recreational boat operation. A great deal of work has been done to educate, train and prepare people to operate recreational boats, with much progress made in the area of classroom education.


In recent years, experiential learning has become increasingly recognized as a highly effective approach to teaching recreational boating operation. The United States Coast Guard (USCG) understands the value of a combination of approaches to learning.


Accordingly, acquiring boat operator skills through learning by doing augmented with knowledge acquisition on-land, is the long-term goal to be achieved through the development of a set of national standards for On-Water, skills-based instruction in recreational boat operation.


Skills-Based Standards for Recreational Boat Operators

The primary focus of the first phase of the On-Water standards initiative was to produce an agreed upon set of entry-level skills-based standards for recreational boat operation. These standards identify the outcome skills recreational boat operators should be able to demonstrate as a result of engaging in On-Water instruction in recreational boat operation. Identifying the "skill or behavior" is the first step in pursuing a systematic and integrated approach to developing a comprehensive, consensus-driven National System of Standards for Recreational Boat Operation.


Now that the entry-level skills are identified and agreed upon, our attention has turned to the broader approach used to design and deliver On-Water instruction that prepares boaters with those skills. The focus of this phase of the program is to identify and agree upon the characteristics and qualities of an effective approach to On-Water Skills-based instruction and to make that information freely available.


The U.S. Coast Guard's Goal

The U.S. Coast Guard's intention is for this national, comprehensive System of Standards to serve as a central framework for organizing information about the fundamental building blocks people can freely access and voluntarily use within their design and delivery of instruction for recreational boat operation. The System is designed to help ensure there is a coordinated and consistent platform of skills and knowledge that people throughout the country have as a result of receiving entry-level instruction in recreational boat operation.

Learn more about the National System of Standards.

On-Water Standards Development
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