Education for school students in road safety is a key approach to developing safer road users. To complement in-school road safety education programs, interactive road safety exhibitions have been developed and utilised, with the NRMA?s RoadZone being one of the first examples of this educational approach.
This research project investigated student learning at RoadZone to identify if learning in road safety was taking place, and if so, what factors might support and enhance that learning. The underlying theory which was used to investigate this learning was constructivism, which holds that new learning or understanding occurs through interrelation with the world, is characterised by perception and action, and builds upon on existing knowledge.
Data was collected from 5 school groups which visited RoadZone in the period between May and November, 2000. The methodology used was to have children create concept maps about their knowledge and understanding of road safety in relation to the specific user groups of passenger, pedestrian, cyclist and driver prior to and after their visit to RoadZone. This provided emerging themes related to the children?s collective understanding of road safety in relation to those issues before and after their visit to the exhibition.
The groups were also video taped during their visit to the exhibition. The video tapes were divided into segments called episodes and analysed for evidence of learning. (Note that a sample of these video episodes on CD ROM is available with the full thesis. However it was not possible to include the sample with this paper in the proceedings.) Finally, six selected students were identified and studied in depth by linking their specific pre and post visit concept maps with video episodes showing them interacting with exhibits. These data studies provided triangulation with the analysis of the collected concept maps and the overall themes emerging from the video analysis.
The results of the pre-visit concept map analysis indicated that students were identifying road safety issues reflecting current road safety education and media campaigns. Post-visit additions to the concept maps were closely or directly related to issues being promoted within RoadZone and provided evidence of new learning taking place.
From the analysis of the video data a set of indicators of student engagement in learning processes was developed which supported the evidence of new learning in road safety provided by the concept maps.