Effectiveness of the FireWork Educational Program

Effectiveness of hands-on education in fire science using the FireWorks educational program.

Two research projects investigated effectiveness of hands-on learning techniques for increasing understanding of wildland fire and changing attitudes about fire and fuel management.

These projects assess effectiveness of hands-on learning activities from the FireWorks program in helping student and adult learners increase understanding of fire behavior, fire ecology, and fire management

Student learners: After using FireWorks activities in science classes for 2 to 3 weeks, 7th grade students in western Montana demonstrated more knowledge about wildland fire than did students in comparison groups. Students using FireWorks were also more engaged in learning than students in comparison classrooms and rated their teachers as more innovative, creative, and interested in student input. Teachers in FireWorks classrooms were less likely to interrupt teaching to reprimand students than were teachers in comparison classrooms.

Adult learners: Evening workshops for the adult public featured experiential learning activities from the FireWorks curriculum. Participants' knowledge increased from pre-test to post-test, and attitudes and beliefs became more supportive of fire management. These changes were still evident a month after the workshops.


Student learning: inspecting tree rings
Student learning session

Select Publications & Products

Thomas, Linda R.; Walsh, James A.; Smith, Jane Kapler. 2000. Behavioral and Cognitive Evaluation of FireWorks Education Trunk.  In: Smith, H. Y., ed. The Bitterroot Ecosystem Management Research Project--what we have learned: symposium proceedings; 1999 May 18-20; Missoula, MT. Proceedings RMRS-P-17. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station: 71-73.

Parkinson, Tamara M.; Force, Jo Ellen; Smith, Jane Kapler. 2003. Hands-on learning: its effectiveness in teaching the public about wildland fire.  Journal of Forestry. 101(7):21-26.