Abstracts of Volume 6 of Computers in Human Services, 1990. Special volume on Computer Literacy in Human Services, edited by Richard Reinoehl & Thomas Hanna


Volume 6 (1/2/3), 1990

Defining Computer Literacy in Human Services by Richard Reinoehl & Thomas Hanna

ABSTRACT: Computer literacy in human services is defined as an intersection of both computer and human services abilities. With different levels of ability possible, a matrix is created which can be used to operationally define computer literacy within any area of human service practice. Child protective work is used to demonstrate the utility of this definitional approach. Various issues within computer literacy are also discussed.


Issues in the Introduction of Computer and Information Technology in Human Services by John P. Flynn

ABSTRACT: The introduction of computers and information technology into the human services requires that particular attention be paid to a number of issues. These include the need for mastery of substantive content prior to introduction of the technology, the definition of computer literacy appropriate to the field, the relative importance of micro and mainframe computing for practitioners, creation of an adequate reward system for system development, and proper consideration for the sensitive issue of who controls the technology within human services.


Computer Assisted Life Review by Richard Reinoehl, Helen Brown, and Linda D. Iroff

ABSTRACT: A positive life review process is crucial to the resolution of the last of Ericson's developmental life crises, ego-integrity vs. despair. This paper describes and discusses: (1) the importance of the life review process and life review therapy; (2) the nature of idea processors, a type of computer software; and (3) ways that idea processors can be useful in facilitating a therapeutic life review process for elderly individuals.


Spreadsheet Analysis in Human Services by Fred V. Janzen, Robert E. Lewis,

ABSTRACT: Computerized spreadsheets were developed to support accounting functions, but these programs have come to have much broader applications. This chapter introduces spreadsheet analysis, briefly explains key concepts used in creating spreadsheets, and finally gives examples from direct practice and human service administration. While spreadsheets can be used for any task that requires manipulation of numbers or use of a calculator, they are most useful in producing charts and tables and for modeling problems requiring "what if" projections.


Desktop Publishing for Human Services by Linda D. Iroff

ABSTRACT: Computers, especially microcomputers, are helping human service agencies gather and organize an ever-growing amount of information. The new area of desktop publishing can help agencies present that information to clients, funding sources, reporting agencies, and the community, in a clear and easy to understand manner. Desktop publishing can result in professional looking documents at a fraction of the cost of traditional typesetting methods. This paper outlines some of the concepts and benefits of desktop publishing for human services, and points out some of the potential pitfalls.


Selecting a Computer-Based System to Assist Fund-Raising and Development Operations by Sandra R. Simon and William H. Button

ABSTRACT: Increasingly, non-profit organizations and agencies must turn to the private sector to raise money to finance their work, and to increase the scope of their services. Computer software is available to assist and enhance organizational development efforts involving direct mail, "events," and broadcast appeals. Social Work professionals may be responsible for selecting software systems for their agencies. What functions should such software perform? What criteria should it meet? The software should contain features that support each stage of a development cycle, manage


Using Online Databases to Guide Practice and Research by Leonard Gibbs

ABSTRACT: As tools for human service practitioners and researchers, online databases to locate evaluation literature are becoming increasingly useful. This article uses a clinical problem (concern about the effectiveness of electroconvulsive shock therapy for depressed persons), and a researcher's problem (planning a study to evaluate group treatment for child abusers), to illustrate logic of online searches for evaluation literature. New techniques for synthesizing many studies may require sweeping changes in how abstracts are formulated for bibliographic databases. Study synthesis techniques suggest ways to code studies to describe treatment method, client type, outcome measures, indices of study quality, and indices of treatment effect size. By replacing abstracts with such coded information, evaluation studies could be synthesized continuously for their program and policy implications.


Statistical Software in the Human Services: Old Frontier or Leading Edge? by Richard W. Hug

ABSTRACT: This article reviews past uses of statistical software in human services organizations and surveys recent developments in the software and its modern substitutes. It proposes four computer literacy standards for human services professionals: (The ability to) (1) choose appropriate software for data analysis tasks, (2) build and analyze small, user-generated data sets, (3) read and analyze external, machine-readable data, and (4) read and analyze internal, machine-readable data. The author concludes that developments in statistical and substitute software have greatly expanded data analysts' options for working with both internal and external data. The developments should help human services pioneers explore both the old frontier of "data rich, information poor" organizations and the new frontier of decision support and expert systems.


The Making of COBRS 2.0: The Competency-Oriented Behavior Rating System for Children and Youth Services by George Thomas

ABSTRACT: Recently introduced advances in microcomputer technology offer opportunities for improving child welfare agencies' access to powerful case assessment and program evaluation tools. This paper discusses the process of fitting a child behavior outcome measurement system to a menu driven microcomputer program. Traditional strategies for measuring outcome effectiveness, managerial priorities and operational constraints are examined in terms of their bearing on the introduction of new microcomputer technology. The developmental process is traced to show how these factors influenced the addition of a number of user options to the basic program to enhance its adaptability to specific agency needs. Initial user feedback indicated general satisfaction with the basic program and the applicability of its output, little or no experimentation, as yet, in adapting the system, and, a minor need to adjust the sequencing of operator activities to better fit the realities of agency work rhythms.


Hospital Social Work Information System by B. Albert Friedman

ABSTRACT: This chapter provides an overview into management information systems used within a hospital social work department. The history of developing the Hospital Social Work Information System (HSWIS) is presented together with a description of the various components of the system. A clear mission statement of the system is also discussed. The use of the system to provide data for a national data base is discussed as well as the present state of the various installations using the system.


The Personal Computer and the Small Social Agency by Merlin A. Taber and Louis V. DiBello

ABSTRACT: Use of computers in everyday professional tasks by caseworkers is described. Eighteen front line workers, after two or three hours of training, created and manipulated data bases of client, service, and outcome data tailored to their own caseloads. The authors believe that adoption of computers for everyday tasks by front line workers depends on three elements: Specially designed software which is very user-friendly; conceptual framework as bridge between agency task and computer system; and agency look and feel to all screen displays, forms, and reporting formats. Workers did overcome fear of computers and did see how computers could be professionally useful. This approach seems worthy of examination and further development.


The Continuum of Care System: A Decision Support System in Human Services by A. James Schwab, Jr., Michael E. Bruce, and Susan S. Wilson

ABSTRACT: The Continuum of Care System is a Decision Support System designed to assist social workers responsible for identifying and selecting alternative living arrangements for children unable to remain in their own families. The Continuum of Care System consists of two software packages called MATCH and PROFILE. MATCH produces a rank-ordered list of prospective placement alternatives by statistically comparing an individual child to groups of children previously admitted into different residential facilities. PROFILE summarizes the characteristics and problems of children at each facility in the system.


Volume 6(4) 1990

Expert Systems: New Tools for Professional Decision-Making by Wallace J. Gingerich

ABSTRACT: Expert systems are computer programs which embody the expertise of a human expert in order to consult and advise on a specific problem. It is now becoming feasible to apply expert systems technology to problems in the human services. This article describes what expert systems technology is and how it may be applied in human service practice. Finally, some of the promises and pitfalls of this new technology are addressed.


Computer Assisted Decision Making by Elizabeth Mutschler

ABSTRACT: It is frequently argued that computerized decision support lends itself more easily to structured than to semi unstructured decisions. This paper discusses decision tasks of human service practitioners and surveys emerging research in decision theory and associated decision applications. fit provides examples of an Information System, a Decision Support, and an Expert System, and examines under what conditions they can facilitate decision making in human services. A number of future issues and concerns are addressed, including ethical and legal questions, and computer literacy in human services education and practice.


Developing Expert Systems by Wallace J. Gingerich

ABSTRACT: This article provides an overview of the general procedure and steps involved in developing expert systems. The first consideration is to select a suitable problem. Actual development of the expert system begins with formulating and representing the knowledge base. Then a programming tool is selected for use in developing the expert system and a working prototype is developed. After a period of evaluation and reformulation the full expert system is completed. Finally, the performance of the expert system is formally evaluated, final modifications are made, and the expert system is put into everyday use. Additional resources are provided for further reference.


A Review of Automated Assessment by Paula S. Nurius

ABSTRACT: The following briefly overviews current computer tools available for clinical testing, diagnostic, and interviewing purposes. The impact of these computer-based assessment tools is then assessed in terms of empirical evidence regarding their performance and client response. The paper concludes with a discussion of training needs and issues.


Computer Literacy in Automated Assessment: Challenges and Future Directions by Paula S. Nurius

ABSTRACT: The following paper addresses significant questions and challenges to defining and pursuing computer literacy in the realm of assessment. This includes attention to practitioner concerns as well as validity and ethical issues. The paper concludes with discussion of promising future directions, including capitalizing on the unique characteristics of the computer and qualitatively different assessment paradigms. A balanced recognition of both the promise and the potential pitfalls of computer-assisted assessment is advocated here, as well as initiative by practitioners to assume leadership roles in shaping the synthesis of computers and clinical practice.


A First Order Markov Model for Use in the Human Services by Alvin O. Korte

ABSTRACT: Markov processes have found a variety of uses in human services administration, evaluation, program and policy research. The models are concerned with the movement of entities or persons through finite states or conditions, the course of a disease and the movement of persons in various states in population change problems. The possibility of using the computer to link costs factors In levels of psychiatric and medical care as persons move through a system makes the first-order Markov process a potentially powerful tool in the administration of human programs.


Causal Thinking and Computer Literacy by Charles McClintock

ABSTRACT: Professional practice in the human services often is based on implicit theories of causality regarding assessment of a problem and related interventions in a client's life. Complex applications of computing to this kind of professional activity require literacy about the underlying processes by which individuals make causal judgments. This paper presents a conceptual framework for understanding three components of causal thinking, the causal field, cues-to-causality, and causal theories, and their relationship to computing applications. For each component, several cognitive heuristics are described that can help individuals understand the components of causal thinking and link them to computer applications that might enhance the quality of professional practice.

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