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Abstract

As the nexus between aviation, fire science, and emergency management becomes increasingly more complex, technology can be used to augment training and avoid risk while maintaining authenticity with situational reality. In Aircraft Rescue & Fire Fighting (ARFF), the manner in which the learning content is effectively imparted to the student-professional can make all the difference in a successful emergency response. The interactive 3-D software developed exclusively for Dallas/Fort Worth Fire Training Research Center (DFW FTRC) is part of a curriculum designed to educated and train ARFF professionals in life-saving strategies and tactics. Through a 2013 Memorandum of Understanding, the world’s leading aviation and aerospace university, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU), and DFW FTRC have created a unique partnership for the conduct of research to explore emerging issues in the discipline. Researchers from ERAU designed this collaborative study to examine how effectively the DFW FTRC virtual technology software in the classroom translated knowledge and accelerated haptic skill transfer to the hands-on portion of ARFF training at the facility. The qualitative approach integrated classroom observations with key informant interviews to create a single-case study exploratory research strategy. Emergent themes led to a richer understanding of experiential learning, particularly key differences among individual student characteristics and instructional culture that influence student proficiency and attitudes. Most noteworthy were: a larger interest among international over domestic students, age/generational difficulties with new technology, and an apprehension among ARFF professionals to transition from traditional tabletop exercises to virtual reality. Variability also existed within the instructional culture, including inconsistencies of software integration in the classroom, instructor proficiency with the software, and adult and group teaching theories. The study also found that knowledge and accelerated haptic skill transfer were positively associated with the virtual reality software, and that interactive participation and memory reinforcement were supported by the findings. Time required for curriculum development advancing further integration of the software into the training program was a significant administrative and operational challenge. Software recommendations included options that allow scenario-specific applications and variable incident conditions, thus enriching each classroom learning experience. Marketing of this software remains the final task for DFW FTRC, as cost-effective distribution could revolutionize training across public safety. Future research should also evaluate pedagogy to categorize learning constructivism using simulator-based and software-supported education and training. How this may be applied to public safety professions where risk is an inherent part of training is a crucial need in the industry.

DOI

http://doi.org/10.15394/ijaaa.2016.1031

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