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University of Leicester Report  

Research on E Missions carried out during 2003-2004

Dr Tina Jarvis and Dr Anthony Pell, School of Education, University of Leicester

The Montserrat e-Mission is based on the 1996 Montserrat volcanic eruption and an earlier hurricane disaster in the same area. The mission uses actual data collected at the time of the disasters.

In the first year of the project the e-Mission was run from Wheeling Jesuit University in USA. During 2004 the mission was adapted by the National Space Centre in UK and run by staff at this Centre. It is based on the USA one but is geared to the English science curriculum and indicates essential preparation for teachers with limited preparation time. Research was carried out during both phases. Pre and post-questionnaires probed attitudes about science in school and society, ICT, geography and working cooperatively. A cognitive test covered understanding about volcanoes and hurricanes. Teachers and pupils were interviewed about the experience.

The Pilot Phase was reported at American Education Research Association Conference in Montreal 2005. ‘Secondary Pupils of Different Abilities Response to an E-Mission Simulation of the Montserrat Volcanic Eruption’ (See attached). The results were also published in T. Jarvis (2005) Reliving Montserrat 1996 Volcanic Eruption and Hurricane Disaster Teaching Earth Sciences 30(1), 23-25.

The Main Phase findings reflect those found during the UK pilot project funded by Planet Science (Report attached). They are:-

Experience of the mission

  • There is an overall positive attitude to the e-Mission experience with girls' scores being significantly higher than boys'.
  • The stress of the mission was often disliked but pupils considered how to cope in hard situations was an important learning outcome as were team skills.
  • The main roles of the mission are more likely to promote positive attitudes. The media role in particular does not leave pupils with such a positive impression.
  • Observations indicated that teachers who understood the mission were better able to support pupils effectively during the mission

Preparation for the mission

  • Hours of preparation correlate significantly and positively with the gain in attitudes.

Changes in attitudes and knowledge as shown by scores after the mission

  • After the mission, attitudes to science had improved with girls being influenced most significantly.
  • 11% of the sample significantly improved their attitude towards being scientists in the future.
  • There are no significant changes in overall knowledge about volcanoes and hurricanes scores between pre- and post-tests.

Those with the highest post-test knowledge scores are likely to be those making the largest attitudinal gains. 

Pilot Phase Report (.pdf 5.57mb)

Main Phase Report (.pdf 5.77mb)

University of Leicester