During the academic year of 2018/19 86, 17-21 year old Students on assorted Travel and Tourism courses at three different FE Colleges in the South-East of England, underwent a SiyonaTech VR Cabin Fire-fighting training day. The majority of these Students intended to pursue careers as Flight Attendants and had little or no prior experience of VR programs.
The VR Cabin Fire-fighting program requires Students to:
- Follow exactly a strict Immediate Action (IA) drill
- Operate virtual equipment correctly and efficiently
- Communicate clearly and precisely with virtual characters (passenger, crew, pilot)
- Make the correct or least worst decisions as the situation develops (program is performance dependent – quick responders experience a different scenario to slow responders)
- Work quickly, safely and calmly.
The training day consisted of up to 16 Students (normally split into 8 in the morning, 8 in the afternoon) learning the process and techniques required to fight an aircraft cabin fire in flight using the ‘Training’ phase of the VR Program. This phase features a guiding voiceover within the program and assistance from the Trainer. It is followed by a debrief performed by the Trainer and the Students’ peers.
When considered able Students were selected to attempt the Assessment phase. This time Students had to perform the drill faultlessly with no voiceover or assistance from the Trainer, although a post attempt debrief was performed. Additionally, subtle changes were made to this phase to test on-the-spot decision making. All Students successfully completed the Assessment phase and were awarded a certificate.
A 30 day duration was then meant to elapse before SiyonaTech staff were to revisit the same Students and ask them to take the Assessment phase alone. This time attempts were to be performed in isolation with no classmates present. They would then be assessed by the Trainer using a 21 point marking sheet.
Unfortunately, this ideal proved impossible as the colleges could not make Students available when required. The average duration figure was 105 days (shortest duration: 48 days, longest: 133 days), between successful completion of Assessment and the Reassessment.
This unintended extension of the elapsed period obviously affected the Students’ individual results of the Assessment phase, but also makes the final figures even more impressive. When reassessed the 71 Students who participated returned an average percentage mark of 67% (highest: 97%, lowest: 18%). The result has to be considered within the context for this trial. Emergency procedures make up only a small part of the various Travel and Tourism Diploma courses. In between visits Students had been studying and revising for exams on topics totally unrelated to Emergency Procedures.
The Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve identifies a typical memory loss of below 20% after only 7 days, but that is for one learning input. This trial used an intensive half-day session where Students would witness a demonstration and then participate in, on average, 4-5 attempts of the Training phase and then 3-4 attempts of the Assessment phase. As already mentioned this participation was supported by Trainer and peer debriefings.
Even so to deliver results of a 67% retention after a 105 day average duration is a truly remarkable and a reliable indicator of the value of VR training for these types of critical safety training.
As a tribute to the acknowledged suitability of this delivery method for this type of topic, 2 of the 3 colleges that participated have acquired the program to become part of their course curriculum and are currently expanding the program at other colleges within their organisation.
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