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Designing An Activity Based Curriculum For Radiation Protection Personnel

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Radiation and Radiological Engineering Education

Tagged Division

Nuclear and Radiological

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.471.1 - 12.471.13



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Paper Authors


David Jonassen University of Missouri

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Dr. David Jonassen is Distinguished Professor of Education at the University of Missouri where he teaches in the areas of Learning Technologies and Educational Psychology. Since earning his doctorate in educational media and experimental educational psychology from Temple University, Dr. Jonassen has taught at the Pennsylvania State University, University of Colorado, the University of Twente in the Netherlands, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and Syracuse University. He has published 29 books and numerous articles, papers, and reports on text design, task analysis, instructional design, computer-based learning, hypermedia, constructivist learning, cognitive tools, and technology in learning. He has consulted with businesses, universities, public schools, and other institutions around the world. His current research focuses on problem solving.

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Matthew Schmidt University of Missouri

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Matthew Schmidt is a doctoral candidate in the School of Information Science and Learning Technologies at the University of Missouri – Columbia. He is currently involved in a DOL-funded curriculum development project for an Associates of Applied Science Degree in Nuclear Technologies focusing on radiological safety.

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Matthew Easter University of Missouri

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Matthew A. Easter is a Doctoral Candidate in Educational Psychology at The University of Missouri-Columbia. He currently works as a Curriculum Developer and Designer for the Radiation Protection Curriculum Project.

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Rose Marra University of Missouri

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ROSE M. MARRA is an Associate Professor in the School of Information Science and Learning Technologies at the University of Missouri. She is PI of the NSF-funded Assessing Women and Men in Engineering (AWE) and Assessing Women In Student Environments (AWISE) projects. Her research interests include gender equity issues, the epistemological development of college students, and promoting meaningful learning in web-based environments.

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William Miller University of Missouri

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WILLIAM H. MILLER is a Professor of Nuclear Engineering at the University of Missouri-Columbia and is a Program Director at the Missouri University Research Reactor. He is PI of the DOL funded "Center of Excellence for Radiation Protection Technology Education and Training." His research interests include Radiation Detection Systems and Applications to Health Physics, Radiation Dosimetry and Non-Destructive Nuclear Analytic Techniques. He is a registered Professional Engineer in Missouri and a Certified Health Physicist.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Designing an Activity-based Curriculum for Radiation Protection Personnel Introduction

Recent reports show a need for roughly 90,000 new nuclear employees in the next 10 years. Loss of Radiation Protection personnel (RPs) at nuclear power plants will exceed 57% over the next five years, and over 1,000 replacement radiation protection workers will be needed. This does not include the needs at the US Department of Energy or the impact due to the creation of new jobs from new nuclear power plant construction. Radiation protection personnel serve in numerous facilities that regulate work with radioactive materials in nuclear power plants, Department of Energy facilities, radiopharmaceutical manufacturers, hospitals and research facilities, food irradiation facilities, and university research reactors. Their primary function is to protect other workers from radiation exposure, transport and monitor radioactive materials, and assess exposures to radiation workers.

With the support of a Department of Labor grant, we have designed and will be implementing a certified Associates of Applied Science Degree in Nuclear Technology degree program to contribute toward meeting the energy industry’s manpower needs for RPs and to ensure that the demand for qualified, skilled workers is met throughout the U.S. In this paper, we describe our methods for designing the RP curriculum, which began with an extensive needs analysis process. Our needs analysis included an activity analysis, a contextual analysis, and a follow-up task analysis to inform the design of this program. Initial results indicate a need for a curriculum that focuses on task-oriented knowledge acquisition in contexts that support authentic learning.

Needs Analysis

During the initial phase of the project, we performed a needs analysis in order to determine the requirements for the RP academic program. The most common kind of needs analysis for determining curricular requirements identifies the topics or concepts that graduates should know when they have completed the instructional program. More traditional topic-oriented curricula typically result in learning objectives that emphasize recall of concepts. For example, as part of our needs analysis, we analyzed Department of Energy (DOE) and Institute of Nuclear Power Operations’ (INPO) RP training objectives. Our analysis showed that, of all learning objectives, 60% focused on memorization, 18% on comprehension of ideas, 18% on application, 3% on analysis, and less then 1% on evaluation of knowledge. Our analysis of the kind of knowledge required by these objectives showed that 52% focused on factual knowledge, 21% on conceptual knowledge, 27% on procedural knowledge, and less than 1% on meta-cognitive knowledge. Our needs analysis also showed that the nuclear industry is probably the most highly regulated in the world, with extensive rules and guidelines provided by the Department of Energy, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and numerous other task-specific agencies. Given the highly regulated nature of the industry, accountability is essential to these organizations, as well it should be. Too often, accountability is associated with memorization because memorization is the easiest and most reliable form of assessment. However, given the complexity of the tasks that RPs regularly perform and the importance of their performance to the safety of workers potentially exposed to radioactive sources, memorization is insufficient for their preparation. Given the complexity of their tasks and the broad range of contexts in which radiation protection must be provided, the ability to perform numerous problem-solving tasks is essential to job success. Therefore, in order to assess performance needs, we needed a more robust form of analysis for a articulating the curriculum. RPs

Jonassen, D., & Schmidt, M., & Easter, M., & Marra, R., & Miller, W. (2007, June), Designing An Activity Based Curriculum For Radiation Protection Personnel Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1507

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