Learning and Teaching Investment Fund 2012

Summary of projects

Project title

Construction Hazard Identification Laboratory: A game for experimental learning about construction OH&S.

Project leader

Dr Stefan Greuter

Project team

  • Associate Professor Susanne Tepe
  • Professor Ron Wakefield
  • Dr Frank Boukamp
  • Associate Professor Fiona Peterson

Project summary

Safety in the construction industry is important because people continue to be injured on construction sites. To address this, the Australian construction industry and its regulator, the Office of the Australian Building and Construction Commissioner, have required that anyone who intends to work on a construction site must complete an Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) construction induction (CI) training course.

A key challenge for OH&S training is to engage learners. One quite complex section of the construction induction training deals with the identification of hazards and the management of hazards through OH&S controls. To engage learners with the OH&S content and to support deep learning, this project developed an electronic game in consultation with experts in games, OH&S and construction. The game was used as a classroom activity for the construction induction (CI) training course. The game was designed to provide students with a safe but also engaging environment in which students could actively identify the most common hazards encountered on construction sites, and experiment by applying different OH&S controls without experiencing physical repercussions themselves. The game was developed for the iPad which provided an intuitive and accessible touch interface but also a mobile platform that can be handed out to students in a classroom setting.

To measure the impact of the game on the construction induction students, the project team used questionnaires, an on-line test and personal interviews to assess the students' engagement, learning, retention and the transferability of the lessons learned in the game to real world situations.

To determine if the learning from the game was transferable to the real world, CI students were presented with photographs of real construction sites. Students were asked to identify the presence of any of a standard set of hazards. Preliminary results indicate that CI students who played the game were likely to detect more of the right hazards than those who attended the CI course alone. Further testing is being completed on larger groups of students to ensure verify preliminary results.

Interviewing the 37 students who played the game revealed an very positive response towards the game. Despite the voluntary nature of the experiment, all of the students played the game through to its end, and the students indicated that they were curious about which hazards they would encounter next. The students reported that the game managed to engage them in the subject matter. The vast majority of the students reported that they were completely focussed on the task and that the game increased their motivation to engage with the OH&S content. Even students who don't usually play games reported that this was a fun activity and the majority of students reported that they see a lot of potential for the use of games as a teaching tool. Many students stated that they were exposed to situations in the game, which they did not know how to deal with before; But after playing the game, they felt they had learned how to deal with such situations in the future. Importantly, some students indicated that they had learned an important OH&S management concept, i.e. removing a hazard is better than wearing protective equipment.

Because the game can be distributed through the Apple App Store, this worldwide distribution network also makes the game accessible to students on their own iPad outside of class hours. The game is available for download though the Apple App store for iPad. The project has been showcased on numerous occasions and received very positive feedback and even a best paper award at the CIB W 099 International Conference on “Modelling and Building Health and Safety”.

Outcomes

The LTIF project achieved the following three outcomes:

  • The development of a serious game addressing safety hazards in construction with potential for further commercial development.
  • A better understanding of the value of games in learning and retention of specific information about OH&S in construction
  • Information and experience concerning efficient and effective game development, with the aim of developing processes which make games accessible to wider education application

As the game was made available to the public via Apple’s App Store and the generated knowledge was disseminated via publications in conference proceedings, we believe this project to have an impact on safety awareness and understanding of the value of serious games in the OH&S domain.

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