Paper No. 12
Presentation Time: 11:00 AM


DOHANEY, Jacqueline1, BROGT, Erik2, KENNEDY, Ben1 and WILSON, Thomas M.1, (1)Geological Sciences, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch, 8140, New Zealand, (2)Academic Development Group, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, 8140, New Zealand,

The Volcanic Hazards Simulation is a complex team role-play that is used at the University of Canterbury to enhance upper level students’ transferable and geologic skills in a crisis scenario. The students record, process, and interpret volcanic monitoring data and work together to mitigate the effects of a series of simulated volcanic eruptions on local communities in New Zealand. A primary goal of the simulation is to improve students’ (science) communication skills with internal and external stakeholders in a pressured and evolving scenario, through interdisciplinary team discussions, jointly prepared and delivered media releases, and press conferences. Overall we aimed to illustrate the need for effective communication in these critical scenarios, and assess and discuss the factors which contributed to sound communications.

An initial study has looked at the students’ confidence with communicating in different scenarios. A communication anxiety/apprehension instrument (PRCA-24; McCroskey, 1982; 1984) was used to measure pre- and post- communication efficacies (i.e., confidence). Results show that the mean student improvement (n = 19) was 1.6%, with most students (n = 12 of 19) achieving positive changes in communication efficacy after participating in the learning activity. The most positive changes were found in the team discussion communication category (mean of 3.8%). The magnitude of these positive changes are comparable to semester long communication therapy situations, which is remarkable considering the changes associated with the simulation were achieved over the space of two days. Some students’ efficacy did not change for the better (e.g., -6 and -12%), while some students had extreme positive shifts (e.g., 12 and 22%) indicating that the role-play had different impacts on students’ confidence. Future research will be focused on variables which may control these differential affects.

Overall, our research indicates that there are several variables which contribute to student’s ability to perform communications effectively: a. confidence in one’s ability to communicate, b. content knowledge of the geologic and emergency management topics, c. knowledge of communication best practices, d. appropriate perceptions of communication best practices, and e. communication experience.

  • Dohaney, GSA Talk, 2013.pptx (3.4 MB)