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Effective understandings about road safety learners


Here’s how a richer view of young people’s culture and lives can help with road safety education planning. Key questions for planning included.

Educators working with young people on safe road use could look to develop a fine-grained understanding of who the learners are.

Associate Professor Lise Claiborne of the Faculty of Education, University of Waikato, says behaviour change models can oversimplify the picture of people’s lives. She presented her ideas to road safety educators at a workshop in Tauranga.

“We need to look at the context, the person, their strengths and motivation. We need more awareness of how they operate in their world and their life,” says Lise.

She says this means going beyond consideration of an individual’s mental processes to a bigger picture of their environment, including culture.

“What experiences people have and which communities they come from can really influence what they see of the world.”

She says behaviour change models can also overlook the diversity within groups.

“You can end up focusing on the average person in the group and not thinking about all the diversity of individuals.”

By giving more weight to environmental factors, educators may also form a different understanding of levels of resilience, she says.

“Even if you think individuals in a programme have had difficult lives, their resilience is enhanced by all those people around them who are supporting them. This gives you a better idea of not just what the individual is doing but what the whole group of young people is capable of,” she says.

Educators can also think about how to acknowledge and honour the good that young people do.

Lise notes that people are not clones of their cultural grouping and there can be tensions between an individual and the culture. Educators need to develop local knowledge about their learners.

Questions for review of road safety education

Lise Claiborne suggests using these questions when planning road safety education.

  • How do I find out more information about this group of young people, their current and wraparound concerns?
  • Does the activity give people the chance to connect new information to what they know?
  • How does the activity support multiple ways to talk and act the information into place?
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