Expert of the Week   for  22 - 28 Sep 2014

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Yasamin O. Izadkhah

Assistant Professor in the Risk Management Research Centre

International Institute of Earthquake Engineering and Seismology (IIEES) Expertise:  Earthquake engineering. Education in disaster risk reduction. Risk mitigation and management, resilience and general disaster awareness and preparedness.

Yasamin O. Izadkhah is currently an Assistant Professor in the Risk Management Research Centre, International Institute of Earthquake Engineering and Seismology (IIEES) where she has been working since 1990. She is also a Research Affiliate in CRSCAD, University of Massachusetts, Boston. Yasamin received her Ph.D in Disaster Management from Cranfield University, UK in 2004. She is the author/co-author of 103 research papers presented and published in national and international conferences, academic journals and book chapters. She has contributed in various joint international projects with UNDP, UNESCO, UNICEF and World Bank. In relation to her research activities, Yasamin has traveled widely to more than 25 countries and has got certificates in various academic courses related to Disaster Risk Reduction issues. Her main field of interest is disaster education, risk education and training, risk mitigation and management, resilience and general disaster awareness and preparedness. Yasamin has experience in major earthquake situations such as Izmit, Gujarat, Bam and South Asian Tsunami. Yasamin also lectures in Disaster Education, Resilience, Public Awareness and Disaster Case Studies in Iran and UK. She has been the Executive Director of JSEE Journal from 2009-2011 and JSEE Production Manager from 1998-2009. Yasamin is an Editorial Board member and guest reviewer in many international journals including IJDRR and Emerald IJES.

Disaster Risk Reduction Education and Earthquake Risk

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QQuestion by Ms Zoreh Bayati

Thank you for sharing this interesting topic, Do you find preschool and school disaster preparedness activities and lessons effective in increasing children's learning?

Ms Zoreh Bayati Independent Advisor | Independent Consultant
United Arab Emirates

APosted on 27 Sep 2014

Dear Ms. Bayati

Thanks for your question.

I think in general, performance activities provide the strongest attraction for children at pre-school level. Role-playing is very popular and stimulates the children’s interest and makes them more involved in the allocated roles and responsibilities, as well as performing correct actions. These methods allow children to think of tangible situations and feel them naturally. It helps them to reach a certain level of self-confidence in confronting disasters, such as earthquakes, through role-playing. In most cases, it seems to appear no sign of fear in children on the earthquake issue if they were taught through fun methods. Therefore, a simulated earthquake can be conducted for children to develop, practice and partly evaluate their reactions in a real situation. As far as I know, this method has been piloted with success in many countries including Iran. This can be done with advanced permission from the parents. I believe that a majority of children transfer what they have learned about earthquakes to their families and peer classmates. Recently, a study is conducted on “The use of comic strips in teaching earthquake to kindergarten children” by Sharpe and Izadkhah, Disaster Prevention and Management Journal, 23(2), 2014. This research showed that pre-school children engaged with and responded to the comic strips in a positive manner while the blank comic strips allowed learners to make sense of the topic through the retelling of the story, allowing them to be placed within a schema of understanding deemed essential for deeper level learning. As a whole and based on previous experience, I recommend using a mixture of various elective amusing methods and tools in order to prevent boredom and fatigue in preschoolers. 

 At school level, disaster education takes place during the class time and contains mostly the use of materials in the curricula. “In class education” focuses on improving the theoretical knowledge of students. Usually, school materials are integrated within the school curriculum in various stages of elementary, secondary and high schools as part of theoretical education. The objective is to create and develop a safety culture as well as reducing the human casualties and damages due to earthquakes and increase the awareness level. These materials have been designed considering the age and student’s physical and social capabilities. For example, In Iran, the scientific issues about earth science and earthquakes in science books addresses the earth, its movement, earthquakes, and shows the seismic risk in the country. Other subjects and lessons related to preparedness also exist in the defense preparedness books for both girls and boys. There are also “Out of class” activities in schools which take place after the class or in breaks and mostly contain the use of practical activities such as drills and simulations. Out of class education focuses on implementing what students have learned as well as the practical activities. Based on my observations, I found that a majority of the school students show more interest in these practical activities than the theoretical way of learning about disasters.

 Hope this help.



Y.O. Izadkhah


QQuestion by Mr Amirhossein Soroor

Dear Dr.Izadkhah
What do you think about using simulators for teaching children about disasters?

Mr Amirhossein Soroor Instructor | Art University, Karaj
Iran, Islamic Rep of

APosted on 27 Sep 2014

Hi again Mr. Soroor

Your question has been repeated. I answered to it on 23rd of September as you can see below.



Y.O. Izadkhah

QQuestion by Ms Shabnam Rohbani

Could you please briefly explain what challenges teachers face in teaching about natural

Ms Shabnam Rohbani Instructor | ELSA

APosted on 25 Sep 2014

Dear Ms. Rohbani

You have really raised a challenging question. There is much to say about this, but I narrow the answer to my experience in Iran. Currently, in Iranian schools, teachers are taught only with the student instruction materials contained in the curriculum, rather than with teacher support and “training of trainers” materials. Consequently, the teachers’ knowledge is limited and curriculum content-based. Teachers typically teach DRR topics for periods, little or no “follow-up” of objective evaluation. There is an apparent gap which can be only adequately addressed by increasingly systematic, sustained and reinforced continuing professional development, by all teachers.

 The current teacher training does not appear to develop the teachers’ abilities to creatively widen and adjust the curricula materials to suit the child recipients. The current teacher guide is limited to DRR content, with little or no reference to practical pedagogy. The guide is typically formulated to mirror chapters of the student textbook (s).

A further challenge which is yet to be taken up is the crucial and prerequisite sensitizing and training of an increasing cadre of DRR capable and knowledgeable teachers. In parallel with these initiatives, greater participation and dialogue between teachers and parents is recommended. This will enable parents to play an increasingly informed and supportive role in the DRR instruction, and teacher support parents in the reinforcement and acceptance of DRR in the home.

 Typically, school principals do have sufficient time to devote to DRR initiatives and activities, which compete with their other daily obligations. This is a challenge that must be met by a school principal, not only in terms of the educational requirements in respect of DRR, but also the responsibility of the school principal as a focal point for the management and coordination of preparedness and response by the staff and students in the event of a disaster manifest in the school.

 Well, I think teachers should be enlisted to participate in planning programs that are relevant and stimulate the interest of children in DRR topics and practices. Experience gained by the teachers may provide useful inputs to assist planners in developing and implementing more effective and “attractive to children” activities and support materials. Adoption of such materials and initiatives would necessarily be subject to review and approval by disaster experts, pedagogs and other specialists to ensure that the accuracy, completeness and appropriateness of the materials, in general and for target age groups. Due to those experiences teachers gain, they might offer ideas that can help planners to arrange more attractive activities for students or suggest materials that would be of interest to them. This of course will be adopted after consultation with disaster experts to ensure that the proposed materials contain reliable information.

 I hope this helps.


Y.O. Izadkhah

QQuestion by Mr Amirhossein Soroor

Dear Dr.Izadkhah
What do you think about using simulators for teaching children about disasters?

Mr Amirhossein Soroor Instructor | Art University, Karaj
Iran, Islamic Rep of

APosted on 23 Sep 2014

Hello Mr. Soroor

Many thanks for this interesting question.

Using simulators in different ways is very common for teaching skills and gaining practical experiences. From teaching airplane pilots to earthquake shaking table simulators, the teaching for gaining experience which is somehow close to reality, has been effective and its valuable results have been approved. Actually, the first simulators are childhood toys which are common in all cultures and societies, the variety of which can have considerable effects on the form of characteristics of one society and may affect the general culture of the people. For example, girls who play with dolls in their childhood are more interested in being a mother in their future life. In the young adult period, we deal with different simulators in the educational programs and labs. These experiments and simulators, if used appropriately, can affect the future of young people effectively.

 With this brief introduction about simulators in general, now I will focus on your question about using simulators for teaching about disasters. In various countries of the world, simulators are used to facilitate teaching to children especially in regard to earthquakes. For example, in countries such as Nepal and India, in spite of the high population of these countries, the community based organizations have came up with some measures such as simple shaking tables which matches the situation of traditional and vulnerable houses against earthquakes. These are shown in schools and neighborhoods to people and they can see the situation that can happen. Also, for example, after the 2010 earthquake in Chile, the MIM museum in Santiago city gave the students an experience of science and technology in the form of play and movable pictures. In 2011, 400000 students visited this museum for free. In this museum, unlike other museums, children could touch everything and feel it. Various educational games on earthquakes have been prepared in 14 rooms of this museum in a simple and attractive way. This museum which is a creative project has been successful in finding its own audience using earthquake simulators and to have the highest number of visitors in the whole country. In Iran, For example, a simulator, the “Shaking House”, was used as a tool for children in order to give them some understanding and feeling of the expected experience of an actual earthquake. It is a small room made of wood in 3 meters length and 4 meters height with two windows and an entrance door. There are large springs installed under this small room. The room shakes as it moves. It can be available in all schools without costing any extra expenses.

To conclude, I believe that the effects and importance of childhood games and the role of toys as simulators for gaining unforgettable experiences in adulthood will draw our attention to the various aspects of these simulators in teaching safety issues. These aspects include:

- The attractiveness of simulators for absorbing the attention and contribution of children;

- The educational as well as amusing aspects of simulators for more effectiveness;

- Easy access of children and young adults to simulators during their school time;

- Cost-effectiveness for target audience and the society;

- The availability for group using to show the situation more real;

- The possibility of presence of the instructor, and

- The flexibility of simulators for educational use.


Many thanks again for your interesting question.


Y.O. Izadkhah