The Milwaukee (Wis.) Fire Department is using audience-response technology from Turning Technologies in a public-education program, dubbed Project Staying Alive, that teaches anger management and violence prevention to sixth graders.
Turning Technologies’ polling software integrates with PowerPoint and other familiar programs to pose questions to groups. Individual answers are recorded using the ResponseCard RF LCD, which is the size of a credit card. The software offers reports, data slicing, demographics, on-the-fly polling and competitions for assessment delivery and data collection, the company said.
The Milwaukee Fire Department approached the local school district in 2007 about violence in the community, according to Lt. David Anderson. The school agreed to the Project Staying Alive program. Currently, there are 45 firefighters in the program, which will have reached the 25,000th student contact landmark as of Jan. 15, Anderson said.
Why did the fire department take up the cause? That’s a good question, Anderson said. Firefighters see violence as a health problem that ties into their EMS mission. In addition, some kids are resistant to a police officer or are accustomed to “not trusting the police,” he said.
“We don’t have that barrier when we enter the classroom,” Anderson said.
The test has five, knowledge-based questions and then attitude-based questions. The curriculum was developed by academics and the local hospital, with help from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee and the Medical College of Wisconsin, Anderson said.
A pre- and a post-test are conducted with each student. Each child is given a response card, but they are not assigned to each one, in order to keep the data random. During the quiz, the card answers are recorded by having the student press a specific number or button. A report is generated in every class and is analyzed by the university and the college, Anderson said.
The system is “novel for the kids,” Anderson said. It also is a fast and secure way to collect data to prove the worth of the program. He said often there is a 40% increase in knowledge about violence issues, including the threat of domestic abuse and drugs’ and alcohol’s tie to violence.
“The fact we can show a 50% score when students start, 90% when they leave, that’s significant,” Anderson said. “And, it is measurable.”