Disaster prevention literacies: Assessing the knowledge, skills and attitude of Taiwanese students for an earthquake disaster, pp. 4 of 7

When students were asked to describe why it was dangerous when an earthquake occurred, due to the open-ended question, responses were varied. The answers were summarized to three aspects: social, environmental, and economic dangers (Figure 2). “Loss of lives”, “buildings collapsing on people”, or “objects falling on innocent lives” were considered as social danger, and 21 participants (70%) believed earthquakes cause these dangers. Environmental danger means “landslides” or “slope failures” and five students (16.7%) highlighted these dangers when an earthquake strikes. Four students (13.3 %) shared that earthquakes cause damage to the economy, all of whom attributed the economic damage to monetary losses as a result of “collapsed buildings” and “broken state infrastructure.”

More sophisticated responses such as the economic damages caused by an earthquake came from the older participants (11-12 years old). The younger participants (7- 10 years old) provided the common impacts of earthquakes such as “loss of lives” and “damage to property.” This may be attributed to the fact that learning about matters pertaining to earthquakes is a progressive one, and the younger students may not yet understand how earthquakes affect the economy. Nonetheless, the fact that all participants could state at least one danger about an earthquake implies that Taiwanese citizens will be able to state, at the very minimum, that earthquakes cause death, given that much emphasis has been placed in the school curricula to equip them with disaster recognition knowledge.

Students’ skills

In the skill section, students were asked how to respond if an earthquake hit (Figure 3). 25 participants (83.3%) correctly indicated that they would “crouch under any table.” The remaining 5 participants (16.7%) indicated that they would “immediately run out of the place where they are.” None of the participants indicated that they would stay where they are. Given that most participants (83.3%) could state the appropriate measure of “I would crouch under the table or any sturdy furniture,” most students were able to state the correct measure, given that much emphasis has been placed in the school curricula to equip them with disaster “response skills.”

However, the learning needs of the remaining 5 participants who indicated that they “would immediately run out of the place” must be considered. Although the results have shown that in general, most students know to “crouch under any table” when in a classroom or at home, the 5 participants who got this question wrong indicate that some students may not know how to respond appropriately when a real threat comes. If nothing is done to equip them with the skills they need, it will prove detrimental to their safety.

An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

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