Computer-Based Simulation in Blended Learning Curriculum for Hazardous Waste Site Worker Health and Safety Training

Computer-Based Simulation in Blended Learning Curriculum for Hazardous Waste Site Worker Health and Safety Training

Cheryl West (University of Massachusetts Lowell, USA), Craig Slatin (University of Massachusetts Lowell, USA), Wayne Sanborn (University of Massachusetts Lowell, USA) and Beverly Volicer (University of Massachusetts Lowell, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-150-8.ch018
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Intended for the interest of individuals and organizations who provide adult/worker training and education, we present a discussion of a computer-based simulation training tool used as part of a hazardous waste site worker health and safety training curriculum. Our objective is to present the simulation’s development, implementation, and assessment for learning utility from both trainee and trainer perspectives. The simulation is blended with other curriculum components of training courses and supports small group learning. Assessment included end-of-course trainee questionnaires and trainer focus groups to addressing simulation utility as a user-oriented learning tool. A majority of trainees reported simulation trainings as useful learning tools with numerous advantages that support a participatory, blended learning curriculum, and raise awareness of potential work site risks and hazards. Trainers reported that the simulation advanced training impact. Evaluation results indicate that the simulation successfully supports small group learning activities.
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Over the last two decades, computer-based teaching technologies have been implemented for training workers about health and safety hazards on the job. Much has been accomplished in areas of software development, human-computer interface, and learning theory to improve adaptability of these technologies for teaching many kinds and levels of computer-based simulation products designed to deliver education and training. Corporations, public education, and various branches of military service are using and have realized benefits of simulation training materials.

This article presents a discussion of the application and learning utility of a computer-based simulation developed and provided by The New England Consortium (TNEC) for small group activities in health and safety training for workers engaged in Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER). Preliminary evaluation of this new format of simulation training was conducted to assess its utility and benefits from the point of view of both trainees and trainers. Evaluation methodologies included surveys of trainees, focus groups with trainers, and field observations of the developed simulation training. Although an experimental evaluation design was not used, the results are nonetheless informative for discussions of how computer simulation curriculum can be used for worker health education and training. We describe the development of the computer-based simulations that were incorporated into TNEC courses, and follow with a discussion of evaluation methods and results, and finally the implications of these findings.

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