The secret ingredient: be together

By Janos Rozsa - October 06, 2021

In the middle of September, the Cranfield Safety and Accident Investigation Centre ran its three-week-long Fundamentals of Accident Investigation course in Cranfield. It’s been 18 months since the first Lockdown, and now we have had the opportunity to organise a course without those restrictions that influence the teaching and learning method and experience.

But why is this so important?

Accident investigation is a complex activity, requiring many different skills to be present at the same time. Because of this complexity, no one is born an accident investigator, these skills and abilities need to be developed.

In accident investigation training, we place great emphasis on Kolb's learning circle diagram, illustrated in the following figure:

Figure 1 Kolb's learning circle diagram

In practice, it means that we try to give our delegates a theoretical basis, demonstrate some useful techniques which is then followed by the opportunity to experiment with what they learned in controlled practices and simulations. Finally, all delegates receive constructive feedback on their performance. This method ensures that as much usable theoretical and practical knowledge as possible is passed on to delegates during the course. However, to achieve these goals, personal presence on the part of both teachers and delegates is very much needed.

In recent months, the Covid-19 pandemic and its associated restrictions have also affected the world of education. Naturally, the primary concern is to keep people healthy! However, the nature of Covid meant that co-learning was not feasible, and face-to-face teaching was severely restricted. An activity requiring practical knowledge such as accident investigation training faced serious difficulties i.e. We were unable to fully implement exercises that would allow delegates to test themselves.

However, this September, under strict controls, we were able to return to our tried and tested training methods. What are the conditions? Fully vaccinated status, which ensures a high level of protection. Delegates from abroad were required by government policy to have a PCR test before travelling and on the second day of their stay. On occasions when social distancing cannot be ensured, the use of a face mask was required. In addition, everyone should take a Lateral Flow Test every 3-4 days, so that any virus emergence can be detected as soon as possible.

By following these rules, we can provide a safe, high-quality learning experience. Once again, we have the opportunity to use the Accident Investigation Lab, where we can properly train you on the process of wreck investigation, evidence collection methods, and the steps of group work.

Figure 2 How would you harvest it? - Evidence collection exercise

Figure 3 First steps in causation analysis - group work

Figure 4 Accident Investigation Simulation

The course is still ongoing, and it seems not only that the intended learning outcomes are achievable; but the feedback so far is very positive from delegates and instructors alike, and hopefully, we can continue this trend in the future.

Interested in learning more? Our Cranfield Safety and Accident Investigation Centre (CSAIC) offers many accident investigation-focused CPD courses. Get in touch for further information.

Figure 1: Kolb, D. 1984. Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.