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“My ideas are important too!”: Student perceptions of a transport safety education experience based on a critical pedagogical approach to learning

School students are the key audience or target group for transport safety education programmes in Australia. These programmes aim to instil in young Australians an understanding of how to stay safe across various aspects of the transport system. Yet insights into how students learn best do not always form part of policy making, ethos or design of current transport safety education programmes. Moreover, there is little understanding as to how these young people actually view and respond to transport safety education experiences. As a transport safety educator, I was curious to find out more about students’ thoughts as core participants and informants. What comments would students have about content; methods employed for interacting with students; and the relevance of the learning experiences? In other words, from the students’ perspectives, are we getting it right? The research question, therefore, was: how does a class of thirteen to fourteen-year‐old students in a rural school in New South Wales (NSW), Australia view and respond to a transport safety education experience that uses a critical pedagogical approach to learning? Taking an interpretivist approach with a critical stance, I adapted and taught a short transport safety unit with year eight students in a rural high school setting in New South Wales, Australia. Evidence gathered and analysis in this study included observations and products of students' responses to transport safety lessons and student views from focus groups. Student participants in this study had a level of pre‐existing knowledge about and understanding of transport safety, including hazards, risks and consequences, appropriate for their age and circumstances. The whole class, both male and female, acknowledged they knew some risky behaviours were against the law and unsafe. They also exhibited an awareness of the importance of having an audience. Student lived experience of transport systems and safety, as reported, is not neatly bounded by agency segregation (such as rail, road, or farm safety). Developing trust and rapport with the students was an integral part of the whole pedagogical experience. Teachers listening without judgement, being open to talk about things that 'adults' may try to shut down or disapprove of can be mutually beneficial for students and teachers: students get to speak openly, and the teacher learns more of students' current beliefs and behaviours. Evidence in this study also advocates active, collaborative learning and that involves novelty and use of technology when appropriate. Students in this study were also keen for educational experiences outside the classroom.
Type of thesis
Thwaite, J. A. (2020). ‘My ideas are important too!’: Student perceptions of a transport safety education experience based on a critical pedagogical approach to learning (Thesis, Master of Education (MEd)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/13800
The University of Waikato
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