University of Arkansas, Fayetteville Division of Agriculture


Crisis communication training and skill development are critical to ensure the sustainability of the agriculture industry. The purpose of this study was to assess students’ perceptions of knowledge, ability, and skills on select crisis-related skills, tasks, and activities in order to identify the potential effectiveness of a Second LifeTM (SL) simulation. Pre- and post-test data were collected to determine the potential changes in skill in the seven crisis communication constructs of (a) related knowledge; (b) mass, group, and intrapersonal communications; (c) contingency planning; (d) use of related supplies and tools; (e) identifying learning and training needs; (f) related areas of expertise; and (g) personality traits. Participants also identified their SL Performance Expectancy as it pertained to crisis communications training. Of the population of study (N = 15), 12 usable pairs (n = 12) were analyzed and described in the findings. Participants identified their current competency level in each of the crisis communication skill areas using a 6-point Likert-type scale that ranged from “no knowledge/experience” to “expert”. A grand mean was calculated for each construct with differences between pre- and post-test scores being examined. The resulting difference in each of the seven crisis communication constructs represented a large effect when comparing pre-test/post-test scores. Based on data, participants increased in knowledge, ability, and skills on associated items. Each item could be used to improve a communicator’s ability to effectively manage a crisis. Virtual worlds appear to be an effective training mechanism and additional research should be focused in this area.