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Online Local Natural Hazards Education for Young Adults: Assessing Program Efficacy and Changes in Risk Perception

Authors: Daniella Edey*, Texas A&M University, Courtney Thompson, Texas A&M University, Tracy Hammond, Texas A&M University, Josh Cherian, Texas A&M University
Topics: Hazards, Risks, and Disasters, Geography Education, Higher Education
Keywords: risk perception, natural hazards education
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

During disaster events, people choose to act depending on how they perceive a hazard or risk. However, most theory and research in natural hazards risk perception are based on adults. Children are a highly vulnerable group that has less control over response and recovery behaviors due to their lower adaptive capacity and lack of experience. While some studies have examined the effect of general natural hazards education on children’s risk perception, few have attempted to develop content specifically on local natural hazards nor explored delivery through an online platform. A formal online and child-centric natural hazard educational program was developed to investigate how the program influences risk perceptions and subject matter proficiency of local natural hazards. The curriculum was piloted using students at Texas A&M University in two introductory Geography courses to test the program’s quality and efficacy. Paired and Welch’s t-tests of risk perception questions and learning module scores show significant changes in subject matter proficiency and risk perception. Welch’s t-tests show females had higher pre and post-risk perception scores, however males experienced the most significant change. The results from two regression models demonstrate that previous experience with floods or hurricanes had a significant impact on pre-risk perception than previously having a formal hazards education. Paired t-tests from a module on Hurricane Harvey showed statistically significant changes for both the entire population and two courses. This along with feedback comments indicate that the module had an influence on the awareness of Hurricane Harvey and the depth of its impacts.

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