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Computer based safety training: an investigation of methods
  1. E S Wallen,
  2. K B Mulloy
  1. Department of Internal Medicine, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr E S Wallen
 Department of Internal Medicine, MSC10 5550, 1-University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131, USA;


Background: Computer based methods are increasingly being used for training workers, although our understanding of how to structure this training has not kept pace with the changing abilities of computers. Information on a computer can be presented in many different ways and the style of presentation can greatly affect learning outcomes and the effectiveness of the learning intervention. Many questions about how adults learn from different types of presentations and which methods best support learning remain unanswered.

Aims: To determine if computer based methods, which have been shown to be effective on younger students, can also be an effective method for older workers in occupational health and safety training.

Methods: Three versions of a computer based respirator training module were developed and presented to manufacturing workers: one consisting of text only; one with text, pictures, and animation; and one with narration, pictures, and animation. After instruction, participants were given two tests: a multiple choice test measuring low level, rote learning; and a transfer test measuring higher level learning.

Results: Participants receiving the concurrent narration with pictures and animation scored significantly higher on the transfer test than did workers receiving the other two types of instruction. There were no significant differences between groups on the multiple choice test.

Conclusions: Narration with pictures and text may be a more effective method for training workers about respirator safety than other popular methods of computer based training. Further study is needed to determine the conditions for the effective use of this technology.

  • adult learning
  • training
  • computer based training
  • safety training
  • multimedia instruction

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  • Funding: This work was supported by a grant from the University of New Mexico Research Allocation Committee (Grant number: C-2218-T) and supported in part by Tobacco Settlement funds of the University of New Mexico School of Medicine

  • Competing interests: The authors have no financial interest or affiliations with any organisations that have a financial interest in this research

  • Ethics approval: Signed consents were obtained from each subject in the study and the study protocol was reviewed and approved by the Institutional Review Board at the University of New Mexico