Mining Publication: Effective Group Training With Computer-Based Virtual Environments

Original creation date: June 2016

Authors: BP Connor, MJ Brnich, LG Mallett, TJ Orr

Non-Peer Reviewed Journal Article - June 2016

NIOSHTIC2 Number: 20048724

Coal Age 2016 Jun; 121(6):44-51

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Pittsburgh Mining Research Division's computer-based simulations in virtual environments are used in many industries to practice needed skills. As they become more affordable and realistic, an increasing number of mine operators are expected to consider using them (Schmidt, 2014). To assess the use of such simulations for safety skills training, researchers at NIOSH have designed and tested several simulations related to underground coal mining, including mine map reading (Mallett et al., 2009), mine rescue breathing apparatus benching (Navoyski et al., 2015) and mine emergency self-escape (Orr et al., 2009). Many computer-based simulations are designed for selfstudy, allowing a single trainee to proceed through the exercise at his or her own pace, with the software providing instruction before, feedback during and assessment after the exercise. But some simulations can be delivered simultaneously to multiple trainees in a class led by a trainer. This "classroom-with-trainer" use of simulation software is likely to be adopted where possible, as it is efficient for trainers and fits with typical training schedules. Furthermore, this use holds the promise of richer learning by enabling trainees to not only review their own actions and strategies, but also compare and contrast them with those of their colleagues during a group debrief discussion. Yet conducting such group simulation training poses distinct technical and training challenges. Therefore, NIOSH researchers wished to observe trainers using a simulation to teach groups of miners in the classroom to assess whether they had any difficulty using the simulation effectively and, if so, to provide guidance to help them use it better. Over the summer of 2015, NIOSH observed trainers at a mine site as they used the Mine Emergency Escape Training (MEET) software to simultaneously teach small groups of trainees in the classroom. Analysis of these observations led us to conclude that trainers used the software effectively, but could benefit from some additional guidance (Connor et al., 2016). Because NIOSH is making the MEET software available to the industry (Orr, 2016), and because the guidance would apply to similar simulation exercises, a summary of NIOSH's findings is provided here for safety practitioners using or considering using computer-based simulations to teach decision-making and problem solving.

Cover image for Effective Group Training With Computer-Based Virtual Environments
Non-Peer Reviewed Journal Article - June 2016

NIOSHTIC2 Number: 20048724

Coal Age 2016 Jun; 121(6):44-51


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