Learning fire investigation the clean way: the virtual experience

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Abstract

The effective teaching of fire investigation skills presents logistical challenges because of the difficulty of providing students with access to suitable fire damaged buildings so that they can undertake authentic investigation tasks. At Charles Sturt University (CSU), in the subject JST415, "Fire Investigation Cause and Origin Determination", the novel approach of providing students with a CD based virtual environment based on the scene of a burned down house, as an alternative to having them undertake investigation of a real fire scene, has been implemented. This paper describes a quantitative and qualitative study exploring the effectiveness of this teaching resource. A key finding from this study was that students felt that the virtual fire investigation task had important advantages over undertaking a real investigation task, even though there were some limitations in the overall degree of realism of the experience. The results also suggested that students found that the visual fidelity and navigation capabilities provided within the environment were quite adequate for carrying out their fire investigation activity. Importantly, students also felt that the ability to revisit the virtual scene as many times as they wanted, at a time convenient to them, gave it advantages over a real investigation task if they were to be provided with only one or the other. (Contains 6 tables and 1 figure.)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalAustralasian Journal of Educational Technology
Volume25
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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