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We are discovering whether humor or stories (or a combination) in safety training is more likely to improve retention of training information for bio-medical engineering undergraduates.


The Engineering Office of Health & Safety (OHS) delivers multiple safety training sessions each year to Biomed engineering classes and others. We use a variety of teaching approaches including both humor and stories (as well as a combination). However, we have never scientifically measured the comparative effectiveness. This study will allow us to measure the comparative effectiveness of these safety training sessions scientifically.


The project consists of delivering three safety training sessions (fire, lab, and bio) to three undergrad classes in Biomed engineering. In two classes we are delivering equivalent content but in one class we use strictly humor and in the other, we use strictly narrative methods. In the third, we use a mix of the two. Students will be asked to take a pre-course assessment (pre-test) which will be repeated two weeks later and again at the end of the semester. The deltas will measure learning transfer. Students will also be asked to take a post-training survey about how much they liked the training. The information will indicate attitudes and allow us to differentiate the feel-good factor from learning.


The goal is to see whether one method is significantly better than the other method(s) distinctly from their attitude toward the training or trainer. The results can help us in the future to better design our training to be more effective.

What if everything we thought we knew about humor in training was all wrong? Might stories work better? Do you like humor when used in training you attend? If you are like most of us, you do. What about stories? Probably some of them? Humorous stories? So, the question is, do we really know which works best (or at least better? We aim to unravel this question in three biomedical engineering courses.


We welcome outside funding to be able to devote adequate time to creating compelling and “rich” stories that are effective and affective. We are also interested in funding to develop an app to facilitate the storytelling decision making process. Feel free to contact us for more details about funding such an app.


Jonathan Klane, Assistant Director of Safety Programs for the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University and Doctoral Student, Human and Social Dimensions of Science and Technology, School for the Future of Innovation in Society Alana La Belle, Lab Manager for the School of Biological Health Systems Engineering in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University.


Jonathan Klane, M.S.Ed., CIH, CSP, CHMM, CET
Assistant Director for Safety Programs in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, ASU

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