Idea Generation in Group Decision-Making During School Shooting Simulations




Houlton, Shelrie Dawn

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Increasingly, many policy decisions are made by groups consisting of individuals with diverse educational backgrounds, experience and agendas. Such diversity within a group can lead to a rich tapestry of information on which to build an informed decision, but can also lead to communication breakdown when the diversity creates competition, instead of integration, of viewpoints. This research examines the effectiveness of the design elements of animation, interactivity and agent-based modeling in support of understanding spatial information in decision-making tasks. Small groups consisting of diverse stakeholders are observed using a geosimulation as a tool to aid in understanding complex systems for the purpose of supporting sapatial decision-making. The groups are tasked with choosing additional exits for evacuation of students and staff for potential school shooting scenarios. The groups also use a blueprint in an additional session for the same task for comparison to the geosimulation results. The analysis is based on both the dialogue of the groups and a questionnaire that each participant filled out at the end of each session. Thematic analysis was applied to the dialogue to identify ideas that were developed by the groups for exit placement and Adaptive Structuration was applied to the themes to determine which themes were developed using the geosimulation and the blueprint. A Chi-square test of homogeneity was used to compare the questionnaire answers between the geosimulation and the blueprint. Thematic analysis was also applied to the answers of the questionnaire. Both the geosimulation and the blueprint aided in developing ideas for exit placement during the sessions. The geosimulation sessions resulted in more ideas among more groups than the blueprint sessions. In addition, the groups determined that the geosimulation was more effective for understanding the system, as well as exposing unexpected issues arising from emergent properties of the system, than the blueprint. This supports the use of the geosimulation as an effective tool in aiding decision-making.



Emergency management, School shootings, Visualization, Spatial decision-making, Computer animation, Animation, Geographic information systems, Interactivity, Second Life (Game), Agent-based Modeling


Houlton, S. D. (2013). Idea generation in group decision-making during school shooting simulations (Unpublished dissertation). Texas State University-San Marcos, San Marcos, Texas.


Rights Holder

Rights License

Rights URI