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Warning response on a university campus: Anticipating message confirmation behavior among undergraduate students

Gordon A. Gow, PhD, Tara K. McGee, PhD, Sharon Romanowski, MA

Abstract


An exploratory study was conducted at the University of Alberta to examine how undergraduate students might respond to an emergency alert on campus. Findings from the study were derived from an innovative methodology that used text messaging to prompt in situ observations on campus and to inform subsequent focus group discussions about students’ warning response decision making. Additional observations were also made based on a sample of messages posted on the social media platform Twitter following an actual campus alert issued in April 2010. Findings suggest that informal communication channels play a key role in shaping response decision making among students outside of classroom settings. In classroom and laboratory settings, however, faculty and teaching assistants may play a critical role in supporting confirmation of messages and influencing students’ response decisions. Recommendations for emergency planners are discussed, including the use of social media in support of official warnings and the development of “just-in-time” electronic resources for campus faculty and teaching staff.

Keywords


emergency notification systems, university, warning response, students

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References


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5055/jem.2011.0071

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