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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An evaluation of a computer assisted instruction lesson Kervin, Sharon


This research report evaluates a computer assisted instruction (CAI) simulation exercise developed according to guidelines developed by Gagne, Wager and Rojas (1981). The simulation exercise was evaluated in terms of: (a) its consistency with these guidelines, and (b) the ability of the learner to achieve the desired objectives. The helpfulness of these guidelines in the development of a quality CAI simulation exercise was also evaluated. Computer assisted instruction is being increasingly used in health sciences instruction. Although there is research available describing its use in medical and undergraduate nursing education, there is limited information on its use in postgraduate nursing education. This research project attempted to: (a) increase the general knowledge base of CAI in continuing nursing education, and (b) evaluate one set of available authoring guidelines. The research project used a one group, three test design. A learning module was developed by the author to provide psychiatric nurses with the basic knowledge needed to conduct a mental status examination. A CAI nurse-patient simulation exercise was written to provide an opportunity to apply this knowledge. It was written according to guidelines proposed by Gagne, Wager and Rojas (1981). Information on the subjects' progress was gathered by a series of tests which assessed mastery and application of mental status examination knowledge and skill. Further data were gathered via a questionnaire on the subjects' attitudes towards the computer, CAI in nursing and the CAI simulation exercise. Following the learning module, there was a significant increase in mental status examination knowledge. A significant increase in mental status examination application skill was also noted on a paper and pencil test administered after the CAI simulation exercise. Subjects also displayed significant improvement in their ability to write a short and concise mental status examination summary. The post-CAI attitude questionnaire found subjects feeling more comfortable with the learning experience. Although supportive of the use of computers in nursing, it was seen more as a tool for nursing schools than continuing education. Subjects also expressed some doubts as to whether CAI was as good as other instructional techniques for practising a mental status examination. Some additional findings were noted: (a) familiarity with a typewriter or computer keyboard seemed to decrease the time taken to complete the CAI simulation exercise, and (b) previous computer experience also played a role in reducing CAI completion time. The computer hardware seemed to interfere with the learning experience. Subjects were anxious about doing three tasks simultaneously: (a) a simulation exercise, (b) learning to type, and (c) interacting with the computer. Several expressed fear of breaking the computer. The present results suggest that CAI should remain as an adjunct to other methods of continuing education. The nursing profession must increase its knowledge in authoring CAI courseware. Potential CAI authors need time and an opportunity to refine their skills. Potential users also require more experience with both computer hardware and software. Computer assisted instruction authoring guidelines need to be developed and tested. Guidelines proposed by Gagne, Wager and Rojas (1981) are an excellent beginning, but more research in this area is necessary if CAI is to become a useful approach to continuing nursing education.

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