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Title: An evaluation of the role and effectiveness of simulation-based learning in the occupational health training of construction apprentices
Author: Nyateka, Netsai
ISNI:       0000 0004 6351 8835
Awarding Body: Loughborough University
Current Institution: Loughborough University
Date of Award: 2017
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Occupational ill-health statistics have consistently placed construction as a high risk industry. Younger workers (aged 15-24) constituting 24% of the UK construction workforce are a high risk group for occupational illnesses from more exposure to physical work factors including noise, vibrations and the handling of dangerous substances. The provision of effective training to young people entering the workforce is crucial in preventing occupational illnesses and improving the industry s occupational health (OH) performance. However, whilst the delivery of training in industries such as healthcare and aviation has rapidly been shifting from pedagogical/instructional theoretical frameworks towards more learner-focused andragogical approaches rich in hands-on/experiential learning, training in the construction industry has not taken full advantage of new training approaches. This thesis aims to examine OH training methods for UK construction apprentices and evaluate the role and effectiveness of a simulation-based training strategy, in order to enhance the OH training for construction apprentices. It presents and adopts innovative wearable, hands on simulations that were designed and developed at Loughborough University, called LUSKInS (Loughborough University Sensory and Kinaesthetic Interactive Simulations), to assess their value and utility in the training of construction apprentices. In order to address the research aim and provide comprehensive answers to the research questions, the research adopted an inductive, multimethods approach, in which the collection and analysis of data combined quantitative and qualitative research methods. First, reviews of theories of learning and existing research utilising simulation learning tools in various educational settings were carried out, to gather insights into how people learn, the theoretical underpinning to the use of simulations as well as the efficacy of simulation-based training. This analysis indicated that use of simulations that is based on the review and application of relevant learning theories has significant potential in enhancing the learning of construction apprentices. Furthermore, the analysis identified a need to move from traditional direct instructional training methods towards more experiential and learner-centred methods in construction education and training. Accordingly, the subsequent use of wearable simulations in the study was guided by experiential and constructivist learning principles, meaning that the research participants were provided with interactive and engaging contextual experiences, which allowed them to actively construct their own understanding, as opposed to them passively acquiring OH information from external sources. Second, fieldwork data was gathered through survey questionnaires, participant observations, semi-structured interviews and photo-elicitation. This involved construction apprentices and instructors from three colleges located in London, Midlands and Norfolk. Together, the quantitative and qualitative data confirmed that a traditional instructor-centred approach, which places emphasis on the passive transmission of information and the use of standardised presentations, texts and workbooks dominates the delivery of OH training for construction apprentices, despite many of the trainees in the study expressing a preference for highly engaging, active or hands-on methods of learning to passive, information-based approaches. It was clear from the findings that by failing to take into consideration the diversity in learning preferences among the trainees and the crucial role of interaction and learner participation in the learning process, the existing instructional strategies do not effectively support the learning of construction apprentices. Notably, the findings revealed that the prevailing views of training amongst instructors and their leaders, which endorse direct instructional strategies and uniformity, create barriers for opportunities to create and utilise more progressive learner-centred training strategies for construction apprentices. The findings related to the impact of the wearable simulations indicated that the use of hands-on simulations can be beneficial to the learning of construction apprentices. The simulations were found to be effective in developing the apprentices understanding of OH illnesses, as well as in changing some of their attitudes, particularly towards prioritising their health at work and adopting correct work practices, for example, wearing appropriate protective clothing when carrying out their work. In addition, the findings also showed that the simulations were largely perceived to be enjoyable, engaging and easier to understand compared to traditional training methods. However, challenges associated with the use of simulations were also identified, including the relatively high costs in terms of both time and money required in their development and implementation as well as challenges associated with trainer competence and adapting curricula to the newer training approach. Based on the empirical evidence and the related theoretical explanations, the study develops a set of propositions which not only challenge the current training paradigm, but more importantly identify the factors that can optimise the OH training of construction apprentices and overcome some of the barriers that were identified. In addition, a conceptual framework and typology of trainees learning styles are developed, in order to provide some practical guidance on how appropriate training strategies can be selected, as well as assist the wider application and integration of simulation learning tools.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Loughborough University
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Construction ; Occupational health ; Apprentices ; Younger workers ; Training ; Learning ; Learning styles ; Experiential learning ; Simulations ; LUSKInS