Author: Kowalczuk, Ranae Leann
Interactive web-based avalanche tutorials are becoming increasingly popular in the avalanche community. However, the educational effectiveness of such novel interfaces is uncertain. This study explores properties of web-based interactive interfaces (representation, feedback, and single or multiple viewpoints) and their effect on amateur recreationists’ understanding and identification of avalanche hazards. An experimental exercise, incorporating the Canadian Avalanche Centre’s AVALUATOR booklet and a Flash-based interface based on its current training modules, was used to examine 172 participants’ responses to surveys measuring avalanche safety knowledge. The performance of a subset of participants on route-finding and hazard identification tasks was also examined. Survey scores increased significantly after the participants read the AVALUATOR booklet but not after the route-finding exercise. Participants correctly identified only 25% of visible hazards present on a single terrain photograph and route-finding worsened on successive attempts. Analysis suggests 2D representations and hazard feedback, delivered through Flash-based pop-ups, negatively impacted performance.
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