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Enhancing Risk Management Instruction of Undergraduate Students

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  2011 Louisville, Kentucky, August 7-10, 2011  1111407.(doi:10.13031/2013.37814)
Authors:   Abigail Borron, Natalie Carroll, Mark Tucker
Keywords:   Risk management, risk perception, decision-making, safety, adolescent, young adult, student

Risk management is an important decision-making tool for professional engineers and technicians. Incorporating personal risk management principles into undergraduate curricula is crucial to instill sound decision-making and knowledge of best safety practices as a foundation for students professional careers. While students may demonstrate mastery of risk management and safety principles through paper and pencil tests and other cognitive exercises, educational research shows they often make poor decisions when it comes to avoiding personal risks in everyday practice. The disconnect between risk awareness and risk avoidance creates a major challenge for engineering educators. To address this problem, the authors propose an over-arching educational approach that relies on targeted student instruction and mentoring both within and outside of the classroom. Key features of this approach include use of classroom activities and student advising techniques to enhance students critical thinking skills, self-esteem and teamwork capability while engaging them in candid discussions about authentic risks in the context of agricultural and biological engineering. Based on a review of educational and psychological literature, the authors provide insights into the adolescent and young-adult risk decision-making process, followed by specific tips and activities for educators to consider when teaching and advising engineering students.

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