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Kinesthetic Learning: A Hands-On Approach to Teach the Public About EM

A similar version of this article originally appeared on EDM Digest.

By Allison G. S. Knox, EMT-B, faculty member at American Military University

Stanford University professor Albert Bandura once observed: “Many different theories have been advanced over the years to explain why people behave as they do.”

According to some education scholars, some people prefer a learning style that that is tactile in nature. They use their hands to physically learn how to do something. For example, doctors, nurses and paramedics learn how to perform certain tasks through kinesthetic learning.

These processes would be particularly beneficial for reaching more sections of the public who are learning about emergency management and appropriate preparation.

Current Emergency Management Education Uses Words and Images

Currently, many emergency managers use flyers, brochures and social media memes to educate the public about how to effectively prepare for an emergency. For instance, the state of Virginia uses brochures to educate the public about emergency measures. Distributing these flyers at public events has had a beneficial effect on educating the public for an emergency.

New Education Techniques Needed for Today’s Millennial Generation

In the last few years, education scholars have examined how to teach millennial students who grew up with computers and the Internet. Many of these millennials are not interested in reading information. They prefer to learn quickly by other methods.

[Related: Bridging Generations in Emergency Management]

One article by Wisconsin education writer Mary Bart suggests that instructors should engage their students by using multimedia sources. But learning by social media might not provide enough information.

It can be difficult to remember, for example, that the recommended household amount of water storage is based on how many people and pets live on the premises. Further, it can be hard to recall exactly what items someone should have on hand in an emergency if they’re not already emergency-savvy.

Information found on social media sites certainly helps the learning process, but it may be necessary to train the public by other means.

Using the Kinesthetic Learning Style to Your Advantage

While flyers, brochures and social media have worked well for some learners, emergency managers need to come up with more creative approaches to reach other sections of the public. Kinesthetic learning refers to the idea that doing something physically can help students to learn and retain information better than by some other means.

[Related: Research Shows Impact of Integrating Disaster Preparedness into Core College Courses]

Taking kinesthetic learning into consideration, it would be beneficial for emergency managers to set up booths at fairs or other public events to physically teach the public about emergency management preparations. Allowing people to physically determine how much water they need to prepare for an emergency would make a lasting impression and potentially save lives.

kinesthetic learningAbout the Author: Allison G. S. Knox is on the faculty at American Military University. Her research interests are comprised of emergency management and emergency medical services policy issues. Prior to teaching, Allison worked in a level one trauma center emergency department and for a member of Congress in Washington, D.C. She holds four master of arts degrees in emergency management, international relations, national security studies and history. She also holds a graduate certificate in homeland security and a bachelor of arts in political science. Allison currently serves Advocacy Coordinator of Virginia for the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians, Chapter Sponsor for the West Virginia Iota Chapter of Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society, Faculty Advisor for the Political Science Scholars and Chancellor of the Southeast Region on the Board of Trustees for Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society.

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