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Principal Investigator: Bandera, Cesar
Institute Receiving Award Cell Podium
Location Newark, NJ
Grant Number R43ES035276
Funding Organization National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Award Funding Period 01 Jul 2023 to 30 Jun 2024
DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Summary/Abstract Among the most educationally valuable components of in-person 40-hour HAZMAT courses are team-based field exercises. This capstone activity combines skills and protocols into an experiential exercise in which learners practice different roles (e.g., entry team, decon team, site supervisor) and equipment (e.g., PPE, sensors, communications). Team-based HAZMAT training exercises have been found to yield statistically significant improvements in preparedness when compared to individual non-collaborative training. However, for several reasons, the more frequent 8-hour refresher courses lack team-based field exercises. First, set-up/tear-down time for such an exercise (~1 hour) would consume a significant amount of the 8 hours. Second, in response to pandemic protocols and emerging worker and instructor preferences, training organizations now offer most 8-hour refresher courses virtually in a synchronous online format. Third, HAZMAT video simulators are currently single user games with no interactivity between learners, and require each training organization and learner to install expensive video game software - and sometimes hardware like VR goggles. Instead, instructors use a case study approach whereby certain aspects of a current hazardous waste site are revealed to the students, who then are required to discuss how they would respond. This is far from experiential. The proposed effort develops a web-based teaching tool that brings the pedagogical value of the physical team-based in-person field exercises of 40-hour HAZMAT courses to the virtual 8-hour refresher courses. The proposed experiential worker training tool exploits recent advances in web standards in order to achieve multiple significant innovations. First, it is the first browser-based HAZMAT training tool to provide team-based HAZMAT field exercises. Thus, any person or training organization with a web-enabled device can use the tool, and no installation of hardware or software is required. Second, the training tool is intuitive. Team members in the virtual field exercises communicate via Zoom, which is integrated with the teaching tool. Third, every student experiences her/his individual realistic and immersive 3D view of the common training scenario, including a virtual chemical and radiation exposure sensor. Fourth, as with in- person exercises, the instructor has the ability to dynamically interject events during the exercise, such as change in the intensity of a hazardous spill or on-the-spot questions, to assess students and keep them engaged. This proposal is based on requests from several training and community organizations, including participants of the 2022 Bi-Annual Midwest Consortium Trainer Conference. Cell Podium will work closely with the following five HAZMAT worker training centers to meet their specific requirements and to deploy in their courses several iterations of the prototype teaching tool for evaluation: the Center for Public Health Workforce Development (Rutgers School of Public Health), the Midwest Consortium for Hazardous Waste Worker Training, the Environmental Management Institute (Indiana), the Green Door Initiative (Detroit), and the UCLA Labor Occupational Safety and Health Program. The ultimate goal of the proposed effort is to develop a tool that is adopted by the HAZMAT training community, enriches online training, and improves the preparedness of our HAZMAT workers.
Science Code(s)/Area of Science(s) Primary: 88 - Worker Education and Training (U45, UH4, SBIR, and STTR)
Secondary: 03 - Carcinogenesis/Cell Transformation
Publications No publications associated with this grant
Program Officer Kathy Ahlmark
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