Abstracts of Volume 19 (volume number subject to change) (1, 2/3) of the Journal of Technology in Human Services

   Volume 19(1), 2001  

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Computer Anxiety and Social Workers: Differences by Access, Use, and Training by Gil Choi, Jan Ligon & Jim Ward

KEYWORDS:  Computers, Technology, Anxiety 

ABSTRACT:  This study investigated the prevalence of computer anxiety by area of practice, hours of weekly use, access to equipment, and availability of training for social workers (N= 244) in South Carolina, Georgia, and North Carolina.  Measured by the Computer Anxiety Index (CAIN), levels of anxiety were found to be lowest for those who have computers in their work areas, received training, and use computers to accomplish work tasks.  Statistically significant positive correlations were found between anxiety levels and high levels of training need as well as the number of hours of weekly use and training received.  A significant negative correlation was found between anxiety levels and weekly hours of use.

Using the Internet to Help Diverse Populations:  A Bilingual Website by Carmen Guanipa, Linda M. Nolte & Juanaca Lizarraga

KEYWORDS:  Bilingual Website, Technology as psycho-educational tool, Website and human services, Website and Spanish speaker users, Multiculturalism through technology

ABSTRACT:  This paper lays the foundation for examining the usefulness of a bilingual website “Amigos” as a psycho-educational, technological human service tool for connecting communities. It discusses how web-based information and resources on topics of interest to various members of our diverse communities may assist them in looking for further help. In addition, the article identifies opportunities for sharing multicultural experiences, requesting referrals, and asking questions.  Implications for the use of technology in counseling service and training will be discussed.

Collaborative Learning at a Distance: Electronic Conferencing in the Professional Training of Pre-school Education Specialists by Liz Greig, Joe McLuckie, Fran Payne, & Bryan Williams

KEYWORDS. Electronic conferencing, distance learning, professional collaboration, early years education

ABSTRACT. This paper reports the results of a recent project designed to explore issues in using information and communications technology (ICT) in the professional training of pre-school education specialists. The focus of the study was on the effectiveness of ICT in promoting and maintaining educational collaboration. Electronic conferencing facilities were set up and their utilisation monitored. Factors associated with non-participation were explored further by means of questionnaires. Gender issues in the use of ICT emerged as an important focus in this context. The authors identify barriers to full conference participation at a number of levels. They suggest that, unless these potential human and technological barriers are addressed, the impact of ICT in this field may continue to be relatively limited. 

Volume 19(2/3) Special Issue on Using the Internet as a Tool for Research, (Ed.) Goutham Menon

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Introduction:  Using the Internet as a Tool for Research by Goutham Menon

The Internet: A virtually untapped tool for research by Danielle M. Murray & Jeffrey D. Fisher

KEYWORDS:  Internet, Research, World-Wide-Web, Methods, Computer, Psychology

ABSTRACT:  Internet methodologies are often overlooked in research.  This review presents evidence that using the Internet to recruit participants and collect data is not only feasible, but may also be less expensive and time-consuming than traditional data collection methods.  Additionally, Internet data collection can yield a more representative participant sample than more traditional data collection methods, while retaining equivalent, if not better, psychometric properties.  Different areas of research that could benefit from the use of the Internet-based methods are explored.  Overall benefits of Internet based data collection, and practical limitations and how to overcome them, are discussed.

Present day use of the Internet for survey-based research by J. E. Gonzalez

KEYWORDS:  Internet-based Survey Research Methods

ABSTRACT:  This article argues that Internet-based survey research studies are presently limited in their utility. What many consider “classical” blunders in political polling that took place in the 1930s, are used as a vehicle for describing parallel methodological errors that may occur with present-day use of the Internet. Without thoughtful protocols, Internet-based surveys are susceptible to these familiar errors, which limit their predictive utility. Tools such as e-mail, file transfers, and data and information access/retrieval should continue to be the primary role of Internet use. A model that articulates the use of Internet technology in survey research is offered for consideration.

Collecting Data via the Internet: The Development and Deployment of a Web-based Survey by Joel Epstein & W. Dean Klinkenberg

KEYWORDS:  Internet, Survey, Process

ABSTRACT:  This report discusses the process of developing and deploying an Internet-based study that sought to replicate the results of a traditionally administered questionnaire.  We present data on the characteristics of respondents, hit and completion rates, and the effectiveness of a dozen different methods of advertising the survey. Overall, we were very successful in soliciting a gay and lesbian sample of Internet-users and collected one of the largest samples for a web-based survey to date.  Publicity methods that addressed the target audiences’ specific interests were far more effective than broader advertising methods.

Methodological and ethical challenges of researching a computer-mediated group by Sharon S. Kleinman

KEYWORDS:  Computer-mediated communication; research methods; online social research

ABSTRACT:  People are increasingly using e-mail technology to join computer-mediated groups, and these groups are gaining the attention of researchers from diverse fields. Researchers are adapting techniques used to study “traditional” contexts, such as face-to-face groups, and devising strategies for meeting the methodological and ethical challenges of studying online interactions. Because studying computer-mediated groups is still a relatively new endeavor, research standards have not yet been codified. Some researchers of computer-mediated groups seem to be unreflexive about the fact that there are real people behind the computer screens who can be affected by the research process—positively or negatively. This paper closely examines one study of a computer-mediated group that used multiple methods, discusses the rationale for decisions made about the research design and procedures, and provides suggestions for scholars interested in studying computer-mediated groups.

Prospects and limitations of psychological testing on the Internet by Azy Barak & Nicole English

KEYWORDS:  Testing, assessment, online, Internet, World-Wide Web

ABSTRACT:  Internet-based psychological testing is a recent extension of computerized testing, a technology developed in the 1980s. The new procedure possesses the benefits and costs of computerized testing and introduces several new fascinating professional opportunities as well as new problems. Side by side with professional tests, numerous, mostly unmoderated, popular, quasi-psychological tests have been published on the Internet in different diagnostic areas: intelligence and special aptitudes, personality traits, emotional states, attitudes and attitude sets, interpersonal and social behavior dispositions, vocational interests and preferences, and more. Net surfers may take most tests for free and receive immediate feedback. Although there are great benefits to this new procedure, risks and problems exist, too. This article reviews representative Internet-based psychological tests and discusses their professional status. Cumulative research that tries to shed light on the possible utility of this testing procedure is surveyed. The prospects and advantages as well as the problems and limitations are discussed, as are proposals aimed at maximizing the former and minimizing the latter. A plea for intensive research, as well as additional and different type of measures, is voiced.

Walking through the fire: Integrating technology to enhance the research skills of minority mental  health student researchers Philip M. Ouellette & Richard Briscoe

KEYWORDS:  Technology-supported instruction, mental health research, training, multicultural, Internet-based training.

ABSTRACT:  The information technology revolution and the “communication age” have brought many new and challenging imperatives for educators and researchers interested in the enhancement of community-based human service delivery systems in mental health. A technology-supported training environment is described to enhance the development of research skills of undergraduate level multicultural mental health researchers.

We’d like to ask you some questions, but we have to find you first: An Internet based study of lesbian clients in therapy with lesbian feminist therapists by Georgia K. Quartaro & Terry E. Spier

KEYWORDS:  Feminist therapists, gay and lesbian listserv groups, web-based survey

ABSTRACT:  This paper explores some issues related to an internet based study  dealing with lesbian clients’ perceptions of their lesbian feminist therapists.  A 60-item questionnaire was posted on a website so respondents could complete it on-line, submitting answers anonymously through a forwarding service. Respondents were recruited through postings to 20 listservs that focus on gay/lesbian/bisexual issues or psychology of women. Data collection proceeded rapidly, with 182 responses within 7 weeks.  Results indicated that the therapist’s sexual and philosophical orientation was important to the client, but that the clients tended to make assumptions about the latter. Specific activities typical of feminist therapy were often missing or were not recollected by clients.  The advantages of using the Internet to draw a wide range of respondents is set against the problems of generalizability, the difficulty in communicating directly with respondents, and the sample bias inevitable in using self-identified volunteers who have Internet access.

Problems and promises in the study of virtual communities Susan C. Kinnevy & Guy Enosh

KEYWORDS:  Virtual communities; community design; peace activism; research methods; ethnography

ABSTRACT:  This paper discusses several methodological approaches to the study of virtual communities, including comparative designs, statistical approaches, and ethnography.  In particular, we present results from one study that exemplifies both the problems and promises inherent in researching virtual communities.  This study examines the daily interactions of peace activists in a virtual community devoted to non-violent solutions to world problems.  By analyzing narrative messages exchanged over a 4-month period categorically in terms of topic, type, scope, and content, the study explores community design issues of gatekeeping and normative standards in a virtual community.

Kermit: Conducting an experiment on the web Paul Montgomerry & David Ritchie

KEYWORDS:  Kermit shell, automating research, bots

ABSTRACT:  A familiar and often difficult part of the research process is recruitment of subjects to participate in an experiment or survey.  The World Wide Web offers potential access to a virtually unlimited pool of subjects:  The trick is to administer an experiment in a smooth, apparently seamless manner.  We describe a simple program for administering an experiment dependent on measuring response times over the Web.  We discuss some of the problems we had to overcome, the tradeoffs we faced, the reasons for the choices we made and the possible consequences of these choices.  We then discuss possible applications to other research objectives.

Volume 19(4), 2001  

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Welfare Recipients and the Digital Divide: Left Out of the New Economy? by Christopher R. Larrison, Larry Nackerud, Ed Risler and Michael Sullivan

KEYWORDS:  Computers, Digital Divide, TANF, Georgia

ABSTRACT:  Policy makers and researchers have identified a divide in computer ownership between the economically disadvantaged and the general population in the United States.  Minorities, the elderly, and individuals with low educational achievement also appear to be left out of the new digital economy.  In an attempt to test whether this identified divide in computer ownership exists, data concerning people in receipt of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) [i.e. welfare] were examined for economic, racial, age, educational and regional differences in rates of computer ownership.  The data were then compared to research studies that examined rates of computer ownership and access in the general population.  The findings support policy makers’ and researchers' concerns about the growing divide in computer access and ownership between the economically advantaged and disadvantaged.

Promoting Modern Technology and Internet Access for Under-represented Older Populations by Carol Irizarry, Andrew Downing and Deborah West

KEYWORDS:  Older adults, Internet, new technology, bridging technology gap 

ABSTRACT:  Bridging the Gap, a South Australian research based program, was designed to introduce the concepts of modern technology and some Internet skills to people over 55.  Target populations included people in rural areas, those with a first language other than English and people who were frail or had a disability.  Informal, interactive, hands-on sessions were developed which demonstrated the concepts underpinning modern computer-based devices and their applications in society.  Major findings indicated that most participants identified feeling less anxious and more confident about using modern technology after the program and that they were using a new range of computer-based skills.

Factors Affecting the Acceptance of a Report Writer Software Application within Two Social Service Agencies by Patrick Panos and Richard A. Weaver

KEYWORDS:  Computers, Report Writing, Computer Applications, Software

ABSTRACT:  Within the research literature, there has been a well documented difference in the level of acceptance in the adoption of technology within social services agencies by mental health practitioners.  This article describes a collaborative process of design, implementation and evaluation of a report writer application for clinicians in hospital settings.  Two inpatient hospitals that implemented the report writer software were evaluated.  In particular, factors which aided and hindered the acceptance of the application in the two facilities are discussed.  A complete description is provided of the application, which allows clinicians to quickly generate a report by choosing and editing commonly used text.

Acquiring and Implementing Videoconferencing Technology to Enhance the Field Work Experience by Terry A Wolfer, Michelle Carney and Jim Ward

KEYWORDS:  videoconference, televisit, field instruction (or education), faculty field liaison 

ABSTRACT:  To facilitate connections between the curriculum and field, faculty members at one university have explored and experimented with the use of videoconferencing technology for increased faculty communication with students and field instructors.  This paper describes the planning and equipment acquisition process, from beginning conceptualization to current implementation.  Further, it provides practical information about videoconferencing systems and suggests ways to maximize their use.

Building a Model to Predict Caseworker and Supervisor Turnover using a Neural Network and Logistic Regression by Andrew Quinn, Joan R. Rycraft and Dick Schoech

KEYWORDS:  Child Welfare Worker Turnover, Neural Network, Logistic Regression

ABSTRACT:  Human service professionals are increasingly pressured to use sophisticated data analysis tools to support service decisions. However, the application of these tools often involves assumptions and nuances that are difficult for the practitioner to evaluate without specialized information.  This article helps the practitioner evaluate two different quantitative methods, a logistic regression and a neural network.  Both were used on the same data set to develop a model for predicting employee turnover in a regional child protective services agency.  The different steps of building and enhancing the model were discussed.  Ultimately, the neural network was able to predict turnover more accurately than a logistic regression by only 1%.  The article provides advice to practitioners on comparing, evaluating, and interpreting logistic and neural network tools. 

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