Research on road safety education

Students on footpath.

Find out how educators align road safety education with effective teaching and learning.

Case studies report by Rosemary Hipkins

Nurturing citizenship: road safety as a rich context for learning (PDF, 760 KB)

Nurturing citizenship: road safety as a rich context for learningRosemary HipkinsBy Rosemary Hipkins, Chief Researcher, NZCER

Rosemary Hipkins carried out three exploratory case studies and describes the results in this paper. It shows how teachers have been supported to develop learning which values both traditional curriculum goals (building new knowledge and skills) and less familiar future-focused goals such as citizenship.

“They all worked to gain deep engagement, so that their students would be disposed to care about what was being learned and assessed. They also sought to support students to build their action competencies – the ‘know how’ and willingness to plan and carry through on ways to stay safe personally and to keep everyone else safe to the extent that this is possible for individuals to do.”

Pam Hook and Mary Chamberlain, both highly experienced educators, contributed three of the papers below.

Pam and Mary provide insights into the evidence base for road safety education that works, principles of good learning design, and what effective teaching and learning with a road safety context looks like in New Zealand primary and secondary schooling.

They draw on case studies of New Zealand teachers at work plus educational and road safety research.


Effective learning design behind curriculum resources

This paper provides an outline of the learning design behind curriculum resources published by the NZ Transport Agency. It examines how these resources support a shift in education towards socially constructed learning. Includes commentary by Pam Hook on catalysts for personalised learning and Rosemary Hipkins on how rich contexts help learning.
Published October 2015


Transport as a context for active citizenship

Pam Hook writes about how the safe road system is used as a context for active citizenship in the NZ Transport Agency’s road safety education resources. With their ‘strengths-based’ approach to road safety education, these curriculum resources engage young people in thinking and acting together to find and manage opportunities and challenges for roads and road users in their local communities.

This paper summarises the thinking behind design for pedagogy that matters.
Published November 2014.


Authentic learning trumps fear tactics

Mary Chamberlain writes about how teachers are using NZ Transport Agency secondary curriculum resources. These resouces support citizenship education across learning areas, with a theme of sharing the road safely.

Innovative New Zealand secondary teachers are supporting students to gain both deep subject knowledge and a new view of being a road user at the same time. How and why are they doing this? This paper discusses these questions and proposes that more secondary teachers consider voluntarily including road safety as an authentic context for learning in the subjects they teach.Mary Chamberlain
Email for correspondence:mary.chamberlain16@gmail.com


Changing Mental Models: How recent developments in teaching and learning can be applied to road safety education in schools

Pam Hook, Hook Education and Mary Chamberlain, Evaluation Associates review recent approaches to road safety education and outline what is effective.

Most road safety education (RSE) programmes lack evidence that either their design or their impact is effective. While some delivery methods and resources may increase knowledge or skills, any such gains often fail to be translated into changes in attitudes and behaviour.

Recent developments in learning theory are changing approaches to RSE in schools. NZ Transport Agency has used new knowledge about effective learning to inform the design of the delivery methods and resources of school-based RSE. This paper summarises the understandings about effective teaching and learning that underpin this promising approach.

Also available:
Two page summary of Changing Mental Models (PDF, 127 KB)


Email for correspondence: mary.chamberlain16@gmail.com or Pam.Hook@gmail.com


Whole school approach

The NZTA encourages schools to support and enable road safety education across three areas: the school curriculum, the school ethos and organisation, and community partnerships.

This whole-school approach draws on the evidence base of a research project from the Western Australia state government department School Drug Education and Road Aware (SDERA):

SDERA's set of principles for best practice in school road safety education:

The researchers found embedding road safety education in a school curriculum provides timely, ongoing education that is developmentally appropriate. Student-centred interactive activities support and develop not only knowledge and skills but also attitudes, motivations and behaviours that contribute to road safety.