The role of high schools in introductory occupational safety education - Teacher perspectives on effectiveness
High school-based introductory occupational safety education has become common and serves an important role in preparing students for entry into the workforce. However, the practices and perspectives of teachers have received limited attention. We sought to gather empirical data from high schools in South Australia and examine potential predictors of effective safety education.
Focus groups and interviews with teachers and school to work advisors were undertaken and a questionnaire survey of teachers conducted. Potential predictors of perceived effective learning were grouped in terms of teacher-, school- and teaching-related characteristics.
Of the 156 respondents from 103 schools, 16% had received no formal safety training, 86% felt that the school management was supportive, and 36% felt that their ability to teach the topic effectively was compromised due to other demands of their role. Although general learning guidelines were available, there was variability in the time spent, teaching methods and resources used. In a multivariate model, perceived student engagement was significantly associated with the use of case studies (adjusted odds ratio = 2.2). The teaching of occupational safety in high schools would benefit by a standardized yet engaging approach, incorporating case studies. In-service teacher training with more explicit guidance on effective content and delivery is recommended.