Snow and Avalanche Center Awareness, Module 3 - Human Factors

Module Description - Human Factors

Course Overview - Registration


This is the third module of the General Avalanche Awareness ClassOpens in New Window developed and supported by AlpenPro Opens in New Window and offered here in the Avalanche InstituteOpens in New Window. This module covers the human factors involved in avalanche safety, and in mountain safety in general. These human factors are the things behind our decisions and plans, and the reasons we sometimes make mistakes in those areas.

These factors are subjective because they differ from person to person and group to group. While the objective factors must be understood in order to plan and make good decisions the interpretation of those factors may differ, and things like risk propensity or tolerance differ between people and groups.

In our Level 1 Avalanche CourseOpens in New Window there are three modules which fall into this category - Human FactorsOpens in New Window, Decision MakingOpens in New Window, and Planning. This awareness module here overlaps significantly with the Level 1 Human Factors but very little with the modules specifically on decision making and planning. Our Climbers ClassOpens in New Window discusses these factors specifically within spring conditions.


  • Understand the role of groups, decisions, leadership, and communication
  • List at least four common and basic "human factors" problems
  • List and recognize factors which affect individual behavior
  • List and recognize factors which affect group behavior
  • List important and unimportant factors for making avalanche related decisions
  • Understand the importance of and need for decision support frameworks


This module covers the "human factors" that are behind most avalanche incidents. This includes:

  • Common Problems
  • Individual biases and behaviors
  • Group composition and behavior
  • Planning and Decision Making

These are complex topics, as were the ones in the last module. In this course these topics are introduced to make students aware of them, and of some tools to overcome human factors problems such as decision making frameworks.



Human Factor Basics

  • Overview
  • Human Factors Triangle

Issues and Common Problems

  • Common Problems
  • Behavioral Factors - Individual and Group
  • Fads and Trends

Decision Making and Planning


  • Case Studies
  • Module Review
  • Evaluation/Feedback

Human and technical Resources

This awareness course is not designed to require the kind of human resources our Level 1 course and Climbers course involve. All assessments in this course are online and instantly checked automatically, nothing is ever submitted to any instructor.

This module has limited access to human resources but full technical support. There are some limited ways to contact an instructor and to interact with other students.

You can find tools for human interaction in "Module 0", including forums where you can post comments or questions for any part of this course. Each module has a Dropbox feature for sending files to anyone currently in the course.

While we provide minimal instructional human resources we do want to address any technical questions or problems as quickly as possible. In this case contact us using the Dropbox or on the forum.


There are quizzes incorporated into this course which allow students to check their understanding of the material. Quizzes may be taken as many times as desired, either to obtain a higher score or to attempt to ultimately get a perfect score.

Quizzes are all taken and scored online automatically.

Successful completion of this module requires taking all assessments but there are no minimum score requirements to continue to the next step in the learning path.



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