WHY RADIATION PROTECTION TRAINING IS NOT WORKING R Monty Guest SETS Ltd, Suffolk College, Ipswich, IP4 1JN ABSTRACT UK industry and academic establishments are failing to make best use of modern, proven, cost-effective and available methodology. Nor are they benefiting from scientific studies of effective learning strategies. The results of two pilot surveys are presented which show low use amongst safety specialists of the available technology and modern techniques. This paper seeks to influence training course designers to use the up-to-date state of knowledge on learning and memory together with modern technological strategies for assisting that learning. INTRODUCTION The worlds of training and education in the UK have been subject to two main influences in the past ten years. These influences have resulted in changes which have not been matched by Health and Safety professionals' commitment to use the most effective methodologies for their radiation safety training. One of the influences has been slow to percolate to industrial training bases and is arguably not necessarily a training initiative. This is the introduction of new standards of assessment based on competencies and skills with an underpinning knowledge base required. The second influence is the advent of increasing availability and use of information technology. THE TRAINING FOCUS The primary focus of the training must take into account the needs of legislation, the employer and the work place but, it is argued, must concentrate above all on the trainee's needs. If the trainee learns, the type of work performed improves. The trainee's motivation and ultimate progress depend to a large extent on the degree to which the learner perceives ownership of the learning situation. What might a learner want, apart from an interesting course? Start time, study time, study pace would all be chosen ideally by trainees but are invariably set for most prescribed industrial courses. Turn up on Monday morning at the Training Centre where you will be trained! Flexibility gives way to the need for a perceived standard start time, prescribed standard learning time and set assessment time. Are health and safety professionals aware of the extensive areas of discoveries made in the field of behaviour, learning and memory? Psychologists would wish the discoveries of Bowlby and Vygotsky to become as well known as those of Sievert and Gray. It is argued that involving professional trainers in the planning process of training courses improves working practices, influences ALARP procedures and affects changes in safety culture. CRITICAL AND INTERACTIVE APPROACHES TO TRAINING There are two main requirements which need to be instituted if an employer wishes to introduce effective training. The first is the need to change from an information delivery to a critical thinking approach. This will depend on the model which is considered for the learning. If the trainee is viewed as a vessel to be filled, the information delivery approach will dominate. An alternative model for the learning process is that which explains the term "interactive". Bond, 1985, identified the primary importance of turning experience into learning, something he termed "reflection". It has four characteristics: · The synthesis of the old and the new · The searching for meaning · The need to try to build insights · New attitudes leading to changed behaviour. At this stage it must become clear that the author is not referring to simple task related training but rather to training which is arguably indistinguishable from education in that it enables the trainee to behave appropriately in response to a wide range of challenges requiring decisions: a holistic approach. Rather than viewing the knowledge base of radiation protection as a store of codified wisdom - unproblematic in terms of its objectivity, truth and certainty - trainees should be trained to perceive it as problematic in all of these respects. For example, at the graduate level, the nature, and validity of knowledge claims in radiation protection should be assessed at three levels: Asking "sociological" questions, e.g. who advances the claims, whose interests are at stake, on whose authority do the reasoning and evidence depend? Asking methodological questions, e.g. about sample size, selection, design of the experiment or model, controls, assumptions, use of surrogates, etc Asking philosophical questions, e.g. about how robust the logic of an argument is, its ethical assumptions (for instance, the ethics of mass mammography or radon reduction campaigns) The second key consideration is the need to introduce interactive learning: where the learner is interactive with the material being learnt. METHODOLOGY Traditional teaching and learning methods have been challenged for some time by the concepts of distance learning and resource based learning. The former still suffers from an underlying assumption that it is just another name for the correspondence course. The former includes the latter but is not constrained by the need to rely on 1950s technologies. Instead of arming themselves with a pen and paper, today's students work on PC, download course work from the Web, attend seminars using computer conferencing and send work to tutors by e-mail. Indeed distance learning is better termed telematic learning. The argument that there are certain areas of subject matter which are not suitable for telematic methodologies is easily destroyed when one looks at the range of training and educational courses which use telematic means. There are MSc courses in Virology and MBA programmes for those who are anxious to develop their potential by gaining postgraduate qualifications. Professional bodies like the Institute of Biomedical Sciences (IBMS) have endorsed the professional status of such courses by awarding Fellowships to those who are successful. The University of Northumbria MBA material is mainly on Web pages, but e-mail is the core tool. The most prominent UK educational and training organisation linked to telematics is the Open University. The OU uses the Internet and produces case study CD-Roms for its MBA students with links to company Web sites. USE OF THE INTERNET As the surveys reveal, trainees' freedom of access to the Internet varies from site to site and industry to industry. Some employers provide access for trainees at certain locations. 'Patrol' software can be installed to limit access to illicit information. Monitoring software provides a record of sites visited by individual trainees. The Internet provides some material of high quality. Information can be provided in real time. There are some warnings which need to be issued, however. Information provided on the Internet, and to a lesser extent on CD-ROMs, gains an authority and credibility that may not always be warranted. For example information provided by non- corporate bodies, individual enthusiasts and/or pressure groups can be placed on a page. Much time can be wasted whilst carrying out searches for information on a particular topic. Quick access to sites of real use and interest may be improved by setting bookmarks. Searches often generate results with an American bias. Assignments requiring only the collection of information can be completed with a minimum amount of effort and understanding may not have been enhanced. This use of easier routes to useful information and the practising of skills needs development time. The role of the course developer becomes analogous to the traditional perceived role of the trainer. Suffolk College is piloting a telematic project for both local and more distant employers on the Internet. Participating employers and students using passwords can access, electronically, information and assessments. Such projects typically allow trainees using multiple-choice tests to have a maximum number of attempts to answer questions correctly, to analyse their performance, and to record results for external verification. The Internet can also be used to good effect to encourage groups of students to work together to seek information. Trainees working in small groups research a topic, obtain data, even pictures and text which are then imported into electronic presentations. Ongoing research into the efficacy of such programmes reveals interesting results. There is often widespread criticism of video conferencing and the use of it for tutoring for assignments. . SOME OF THE RESULTS OF PILOT SURVEYS Two surveys were carried out into training methodologies. Only some of the results are presented here as snap-shot views and really need to be followed up with in-depth studies of the changing way in which radiation protection training is adapting to technological and cognitive advances. Survey 1: Nuclear Sites Types of Respondents 51 major UK nuclear sites and companies using radioactive materials were invited to take part in the survey which was conducted between February and June 1998. 32 valid replies were received. The number of employees on the sites varied from 360 up to 7000. The number of employees working in the section responsible for health and safety, including radiation protection and safety varied from 83 to 1250, 1.7% up to 6.5% of the workforce. The names of these sections were many and various, e.g. Health & Safety Services Regulations Safety Group, RSD, Environmental Safety. Access to Internet On average only 11% of the respondents claimed to have access to the Internet at work. On average only 27% of them had access to the Internet at home as well. This would appear to be well below the national average, certainly for professional workers. Of the 89% who do not have access to the Internet at work, 32% had access at home confirming the nationally recognised phenomenon that Internet is developing from a hobby to a "out-of-work recreation". No information was requested on the percentage of time spent working at the computer. Survey 2: Higher Education Types of Respondents 154 questionnaires were sent out to individual safety officers, members of the Association of University Radiation Protection Officers. 22 replies were received. The numbers of academic staff involved in science programmes varied between 300 and 2000. The number of academic staff with a responsibility for safety varied from 15 to 250. Once again the name of the section responsible for safety showed innovative use of titular license. All respondents were involved in training in safety. The working time spent involved in training varied from <1% to 15% with a modal value of 10%. Access to Internet Almost all had Internet access at work. Only 3 respondents had Internet access at home.
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