Item: Skill and knowledge mastery of students in level i avalanche courses
Title: Skill and knowledge mastery of students in level i avalanche courses
Proceedings: Proceedings of the 2006 International Snow Science Workshop, Telluride, Colorado
Authors: Nancy Pfeiffer, Alaska Avalanche School, Jeffrey M. Foley, Colorado Mountain College
Abstract: Avalanche education began in the United States in early 1970’s. The current entry level--often referred to as Level 1--avalanche curriculum focuses on the practical application of basic avalanche skills and knowledge. This study attempts to determine what avalanche information the learner can recall a week after and a year after completion of a Level 1 Avalanche course and to determine which skills learned are routinely put into praxis by the learner. A tertiary goal of this study is to offer a reflection on current Level 1 Avalanche curriculum and delivery. Students completing a Level 1 Avalanche course were surveyed one week and one year after course completion. Two hundred and ten students completed the week-after survey and one hundred and eighteen completed the year-after survey. In the week-after survey 45% of students reported they had a beginner level of avalanche knowledge, this decreased to 33% in the year-after survey. Conversely, in the week-after survey 50% of students reported they had an intermediate level of avalanche knowledge, this increased to 61% in the year after survey. Respondents on the second survey scored 10% lower overall on the factual questions than the first survey; this is a decrease from 88% correct on the first survey to 77% correct on the second survey. The percentage of students that always carried a beacon in backcountry avalanche terrain increased from 47% to 79%. Similar increases were seen in students carrying a probe and a shovel. Many students increased the frequency of using safe travel techniques such as traveling one at a time, grouping up in safe areas, and doing avalanche transceiver checks prior to entering the backcountry. Many other knowledge, behavioral, and action oriented outcomes are explored in this report.
Keywords: avalanche education, avalanche curriculum, learning outcomes, outcomes assessment, information retention
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