Evaluating Competency and Risk Through Synthetic Learning Environments








October 22nd, 2019


9:45 am - 10:45 am 


Nevada 8


Company: Research Scientist 

Title: Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, The University of Arizona

Karen Noiva is a research scientist at the Western Mine Safety and Health Training Resource Center at the University of Arizona, where she works to understand how innovations in gamification, virtual reality, and serious games can improve adult learning and training and safety outcomes. She holds a Ph.D. in Building Technology and an S.B. in Mechanical Engineering from MIT. Her past research was in the assessment and comparison of sustainability of urban water management. Noiva has ridden across two continents and worked in Nairobi and Singapore.

Company: Lowell Institute for Mineral Resources, The university of Arizona 

Title: Research Scientist

Leonard D. Brown is a scientist at the University of Arizona's Lowell Institute for Mineral Resources. He has nearly two decades of experience designing and evaluating human computer interfaces and has published more than a dozen papers on these topics. For the past ten years, Brown's research team at the Lowell Institute has created new technologies for training and competency assessment in hazards recognition, situational awareness, and emergency response. He previously worked in the gaming industry, for companies including Sony Corp., and is co-founder and chief scientist for Desert Saber, L.L.C., a Tucson-based safety technology startup. Brown holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science.

Company: Lowell Institute for Mineral Resources, The university of Arizona 

Title: Research Scientist

karen noiva
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Harry’s Hard Choices (HHC) is a synthetic learning environment developed by the University of Arizona for training in mine evacuation and emergency response. HHC extends a paper scenario by NIOSH (Vaught, Hall, & Klein 2009). Synthetic learning environments present a unique opportunity to assess miner competency in a dynamic, interactive environment that replicates the complex situations that miners face in the real world. We have conducted a multi-year experiment with HHC and collected user data from training sessions with miners of different experience levels. We present key findings from our analysis, including differences between experienced users and novices. We discuss the challenges of evaluating competency in simulated realistic conditions and lessons learned and introduce a new approach to addressing those issues.