Investigation of Traffic Safety Education in Victorian Schools

Investigation of Traffic Safety Education in Victorian Schools

Monash University Accident Research Centre - Report #110 - 1997

Authors: W. Harrison, I. Penman & J. Pennella

Full report in .pdf format [5.5MB]

Abstract:

The Victorian Department of Education commissioned this project as a baseline measure of traffic safety education prior to the commencement of a Teacher Professional Development Program in the traffic safety education area. Two surveys were conducted to measure the current level of traffic safety education in Victorian schools and to measure the attitudes of teachers towards traffic safety education.

A mail out survey to schools provided data concerning the use of 193 different traffic safety resources and activities in 444 primary and secondary schools in the three school sectors. When averaged across the whole sample these data indicate that traffic safety education takes up about 1.6 hours per week in primary schools and 55 minutes per week in secondary schools, summed over the whole school. Data are presented concerning the use of specific programs and the placement of traffic safety education in the curriculum.

A telephone survey of 200 teachers was conducted to measure their attitudes to traffic safety education. Analysis of the results suggested that there were five groups of teachers based on their attitudes to this teaching area. Three groups of teachers had relatively positive attitudes to traffic safety education and two groups were more negative. These attitudes were reflected in their self-reported use of traffic safety education resources and activities and their level of inservice participation.

Executive Summary

The Victorian Department of Education commissioned the Monash University Accident Research Centre in July 1996 to conduct a project to investigate the amount and type of traffic safety education being conducted in Victorian schools and the attitudes of teachers to traffic safety education. The project was primarily intended to provide baseline data for an evaluation of the traffic safety education Teacher Professional Development Program implemented this year.

The Teacher Professional Development Program aims to encourage the inclusion of traffic safety education in the school curriculum and involves the selection of 59 traffic safety education district network teachers across the State whose role will be supporting and promoting traffic safety education in schools and the provision of advice and network activities for teachers in their district.

The current project had two components - a mail-out survey of the amount and types of traffic safety education resources and activities used in schools and the placement of these in the school curriculum and a telephone survey of teacher attitudes to traffic safety education.

USE OF RESOURCES AND ACTIVITIES

The mail-out survey was completed by 444 schools. 317 of these schools reported usage data for traffic safety education resources and activities. Of these schools, 238 were primary schools which reported an average of 86.8 hours devoted to traffic safety education across the whole school, and 79 were secondary schools devoting an average of 57.9 hours to traffic safety education across the whole school. 62% of primary school resource and activity usage and 53% of secondary school usage was in the classroom. The usage of traffic safety education resources and materials varied considerably between grade and year levels.

Traffic safety education is conducted across the curriculum in primary schools with most time spent in Health and PE, SOSE, and English. The placement of traffic safety education in secondary school curricula is more complex with considerable variation between year levels. Overall, the bulk of resource and activity usage occurs outside the Key Learning Area framework and in Health and PE.

The most common difficulties faced by schools implementing traffic safety education related to timetabling and the crowded curriculum or the lack of trained staff. The involvement of parents and the wider community in traffic safety education in the respondent schools was largely limited to involvement in bicycle education programs and excursions.

The results of the survey suggest that traffic safety education is conducted at lower levels in Secondary schools than in primary schools schools. The results also suggest that the level of inservicing of teachers in this area is quite low.

TEACHER ATTITUDES

A telephone survey of 200 teachers was conducted to measure their attitudes to traffic safety education. Analysis of the results suggested that there were five groups of teachers based on their attitudes to this teaching area. Three groups of teachers had relatively positive attitudes to traffic safety education and two groups were more negative. These attitudes were reflected in their self-reported use of traffic safety education resources and activities and their level of inservice participation.

The teachers with negative attitudes towards traffic safety education either had concerns about the time constraints involved in implementing this area in their teaching or were negative about the quality and ease-of-use of resource materials in this area. These associated attitudes and the relationship between attitudes and self-reported behaviour noted here lead to some recommendations concerning the Teacher Professional Development Program that might help these teachers include some aspects of traffic safety education in their teaching. These included improved awareness of modern resource materials, advice concerning the inclusion of these materials in a range of curriculum areas, and advice concerning ways of achieving this without undue impact on teaching workload.

GENERAL CONCLUSIONS

The two surveys conducted as part of the traffic safety education project have provided baseline data for the investigation of the effects of the traffic safety education Teacher Professional Development Program being conducted by the Department of Education, but they have also provided data of more general interest concerning the amount and type of traffic safety education being conducted in Victorian schools in 1996 and the attitude structure of teachers in relation to this area of education.

Sponsor: Department of Education, Victoria