The effects of active training strategies on children's acquisition of emergency skills and fear of fire
Two training procedures (active rehearsal, passive observation) were assessed for relative effectiveness in the acquisition of sequential fire emergency skills, reducing fire-related fears and physiological arousal, and increasing self-efficacy and rationale for fire safety skills. Active subjects imitated videotaped models performing emergency behavior while receiving behavior-contingent feedback. Passive viewers received no practice or feedback. Experimental groups were compared to untrained controls. Active rehearsal was expected to lead to superior skill acquisition, fear-reduction, self-efficacy appraisals, rationale acquisition, and reduction of physiological reactivity (systolic and diastolic blood pressure, pulse rate). Subjects were 52 third-grade children. Dependent measures were assessed at pre-test, post-test, and five-month follow-up. Significant performance gains were found for both experimental groups, but not for controls. Active training produced significantly greater skill acquisition. Skill gains were not maintained at follow-up. All groups showed significant reductions in fear at post-test, but no differences were found between groups. Active training also produced significantly greater self-efficacy appraisals for one emergency situation. Both experimental groups demonstrated significant gains in rationale acquisition relative to controls. Physiological results were confounded by pre-test differences. Correlations between various measures were examined. A significant relationship was found between self-efficacy appraisals and behavioral performance for one emergency situation. The correlation between self-report of fear and self-efficacy was highly significant across time. The implications of active training strategies in fire safety programs are discussed.