Copyright, 1995 by The Haworth Press, Binghamton, NY, Computers in Human Services, Multimedia training for Child Protective Service Workers: Results of initial development and testing,Vol. 12(1/2) 81-97.
Articles copies available from The Haworth Document Delivery Service: 1-800-HAWORTH. Email address: getinfo@haworthpressinc.com

Multimedia Training For Child Protective Service Workers: Initial Test Results

by

Rosemary Satterwhite, MSSW

Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services

and

Dick Schoech, Ph.D.

U of Texas at Arlington School of Social Work

Contact Person:

Keywords

Multimedia, computer based training, computers, human services, child protective services

Author descriptions

Rosemary Satterwhite M.S.S.W., is a supervisor in the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services and was the subject matter expert for the case simulation. Dick Schoech, Ph.D., is Professor and Project Director. Others involved in developing the simulation were Monica Williams, M.S.S.W., simulation programmer and Ann Wilder, resource base developer. Contact the developers at the University of Texas at Arlington, School of Social Work, Box 19129, Arlington, TX 76019-0129 Ph: 817/272-3964, The project was funded by the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services, Child Protective Services Program through the Children's Protective Services Training Institute, Center for Social Work Research at The University of Texas at Austin.

Abstract

Child protective service agencies are showing increasing interest in computer based training due to factors such as deskilling of worker tasks, high turnover, and court orders to improve worker performance. Recent developments in computer-based multimedia offer new potential for computer based training. This article describes a child protective services case simulation and the results of preliminary testing. Fourteen users with a variety of experience responded very favorably to the design and learning that occurred by working the simulated case. Issues concern the lack of informal guidance while working the simulated case and the need to tailor the complexity of the simulation to the intended audience.

Introduction

In the US the deskilling of human service jobs has increased the importance of training to insure quality services. This was especially true in Child Protective Services where studies estimate 24 months are required to become a proficient worker, yet the average length of stay of new hires varies from 9 months in major cities to 18 months in rural areas. To address the training issues, the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services (TDPRS), Child Protective Services (CPS) Program joined with the Schools of Social Work in Texas to establish the Children's Protective Services Training Institute. The Institute's goal was to develop, implement and monitor a CPS curriculum and certification program. One part of this goal was to explore how technology could support CPS training.

A statewide committee developed a five year plan in the Spring of 1992 to explore the use of technology for CPS training. One major planned effort was to illustrate the potentials of multimedia for computer based training (CBT) and to guide the Institute's future use of technology. Two development projects were funded. One was an interviewing strategies module developed by Patrick Leung, Ph.D., Associate Professor, at the U. of Houston School of Social Work. The second was a case simulation on failure to thrive developed by the authors at the U. of Texas at Arlington School of Social Work.

This article describes the case simulation, its supporting research and rationale, and the results of preliminary testing after 6 months of development. The case simulation was called Keisha after the child in the case. The case simulation will be integrated into worker training in several TDPRS offices in 1994.

Computer Based Training (CBT)

The Emergence of Multimedia CBT. CBT is where a computer plays an integral role in delivering curriculum. Computer assisted instruction (CAI) is a more general term. For example, in CAI a computer may be used to test trainees but not deliver curriculum. While the computer and educational technology behind CBT are not new, new tools provide the capacity to develop CBT far superior to previous developments. Especially important are tools that incorporate multimedia, such as sound, graphics, pictures, video, and animation. Multimedia allows dual coding, a process by which memory traces are etched simultaneously by several stimuli, such as visuals, text, and sound (Rieber, 1989). Dual coding can enhance retention (Rieber, 1989; 1991; Rieber, Boyce & Assad, 1990). Banyan & Stein (1990) found that students recalled more details from CBT when they received speech plus video. However, in spite of their increased performance, students reported that they preferred the use of only video, text, or speech. Other researchers also cautioned not to overwhelm learners with too much stimuli at once. Patterson & Yaffe (1993) contrasted a linear presentation of screens containing numbers and text to teach diagnostic criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (Ver. IIIR) to a multimedia presentation that provided multiple methods of encoding material and sustaining user interest. They found that computer assisted instruction was equally effective as the traditional paper based instruction in increasing students' diagnostic speed and accuracy. Students reported that they found the computer training harder, but they "liked it better."

Simulation as a type of CBT. Other forms of CBT exist besides the traditional "drill and practice" where information is followed by practice sessions and quizzes. One of the most complex forms of CBT is a simulation. Schoech (1990) defined a simulation as "an experimental method which attempts to replicate a system or activity without building or operating the actual system or performing the activity." In a policy simulation developed by Flynn (1985), students influenced a particular community goal by taking various roles in the simulation. Flynn found that "learning by doing" was an effective way to master knowledge and skills.

Petry (1990) described a computer simulation designed to teach strategic decision making in a group. The program was tested by political science students assigned either to conventional teaching methods or to the computer simulation evaluation group. Petry inferred from preliminary data that the computer simulation was more effective than conventional classroom methods.

Sussman and Lowman (1989) found that students felt greater satisfaction in actively engaging in the learning process through a simulation versus the printed materials. The key variable did not appear to be a matter of control but the degree of realism in the simulation programs.

In a simulation by Chan, Berven, and Lam (1990), students were able to develop improved problem solving skills by modeling their approaches and strategies after the practices of successful rehabilitation counselors. Evaluative statements provided feedback for actions taken by students. Ill-advised actions resulted in the client losing confidence in the counselor. The client could even terminate service if too many ill-advised actions were taken. This simulation illustrates that inappropriate case management actions taken by students can be corrected without detrimental effects to actual clients. Despite these positive findings, authors typically caution that case simulations are in their infancy and norms for evaluation have yet to be established.

CBT in Child Protective Services. In June 1992, TDPRS conducted a national survey on the use of CBT in child protective service. Thirty-four of the 50 states and the District of Columbia responded. Fifty-one percent of those responding indicated they will use technology in CPS training in the next 5 years. Another 43% was interested in the possibility of using technology in their CPS training. Topics to be covered by CBT included computer literacy, system overview, workload management, indicators of physical abuse, indicators of sexual abuse, communication skills, interviewing skills, and others. Respondents considered multimedia the best long-term, cost-effective, technology-based instructional strategy at present. States that had developed CBT indicated that resistance to CBT comes primarily from administrators and trainers not familiar with CBT, not from workers.

In 1992, MacFadden developed a CBT program for sexual abuse assessment and tested whether the CBT improved the knowledge of new CPS workers in child sexual abuse. The training group's mean knowledge score was significantly higher (9%) than the control group. Short, medium, and long term retention rates indicated that the advantages of CBT may weaken over time. MacFadden describes an unexplained finding that older workers appeared to benefit more from CBT than younger workers.

Leung, Cheung, and Stevenson (in press) note that computers were mostly used by the trainer, not the trainee. Trainers used computers to prepare training materials, to conduct research, and to manage staff development activities. Leung et al. (in press) described a collaborative project between the Colorado Department of Social Services and the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Denver to develop and implement a 7 module CBT curriculum for new workers. The CBT was to train all new workers in their offices, before classroom training, on the basics of law, policy, and procedures. The project found that CBT was effective in helping workers master both knowledge and skill. Limitations included the high cost of translating existing training into CBT and the lack of mandated use (Colorado Department of Social Services, 1991).

Pittman (1992) designed and pre-tested a multimedia application to help workers attain entry level competence in the performance of child abuse and neglect investigations. Pittman's CBT consisted of five modules. Each module contained training objectives; learning activities including readings, interactive exercises and video; and performance appraisals for use by the evaluator. Pittman pretested the CBT on experienced CPS workers who also were familiar with computers and a convenient sample of five CPS students who were somewhat familiar with child abuse and neglect. Preliminary results indicated that sustained interest was low and that users took exception to some of the CBT material and suggested changes. Pittman discussed the importance of a pretest during the development process to increase the likelihood that the final project will achieve its stated goals.

In summary, studies suggest that CBT can offer a cost-effective, non-judgmental, confidential, and safe learning experience where workers can experiment at their own learning pace without harm to the client. In addition, the CBT can capture and store an immense amount of information to compare prior and current performance of individuals or groups. The key factors spurring CBT in Child Protective Services agencies is that CBT technology is rapidly improving while forces resulting in inconsistently and insufficiently trained workers are increasing. Currently, most CBT uses a text based drill and practice format. While CBT holds much promise, it must be put in perspective. Leung et al. (in press) cautions that CBT is only part of an integrated program of training and cannot stand on its own.

Rationale and Description of the Current Simulation

Rationale for the case simulation. The Training Technology Advisory Committee of the Children's Protective Services Training Institute indicated that the CBT developed was to:

Illustrate the costs and potentials of multimedia CBT to address a significant TDPRS training need so the Institute can make intelligent decisions about the role of technology in future CPS training.

Not discover new knowledge, but contain existing knowledge that would be consistent over time.

Research the CBT design and development process for an organization as large, diverse, and decentralized as the TDPRS.

Run on current technology while having the capacity to use technology that will be common 3-5 years in the future.

Be based on workers' needs and conceptually display information in ways that are typical of how workers view their work world.

Be designed for new workers under instructor guidance at TDPRS learning centers.

Given these criteria and the fact that the U. of Houston was designing drill and practice multimedia on basic job skills training, the UTA development team chose to create a case simulation. A case simulation would allow the developers to make maximum use of multimedia technology with the exception of video which required more sophisticated hardware than was available.

Failure-to-thrive (FTT) was chosen as the subject of the simulation because FTT has a fairly circumscribed and consistent set of medical and clinical (behavioral and physical) characteristics (Goldstein & Field, 1985; Lozoff, 1989). FTT intervention was also commonly agreed upon. A literature search revealed only one treatment model for neglect families whose children were either in foster care or in their own homes (Harris & Alexander, 1982). It was advantageous that the model was used in Dallas, Texas for treating neglect families with children in their own homes. FTT was also an area of expertise of the author of this paper who was the subject matter expert for the CBT. A real FTT case was chosen as the basis of the simulation to add as much realism as possible. The case was of a newborn infant where neighbors reported the mother using crack cocaine and seeming incompetent to parent.

Description of the case simulation. The entire simulation consisted of 4 modules that took 30 to 45 minutes each to complete. The modules were: (1) the referral, (2) the home visit, (3) casework activity, and (4) forms and feedback.

The CBT simulation was based on a "discovery" instructional approach that allows the user to "discover" the best way to "work" a case. All actions in the case were connected, for example, trainees could not go out on the home visit until they analyzed the intake and called the complainant. The simulation opens with the user providing their name, selecting a gender and ethnic specific graphic of a worker to represent themselves, and selecting whether an owl or shark should be used during the simulation to represent their supervisor. After initial instructions, the trainee was placed in an office where icons represent the actions that could be taken (Figure 1). Trainees moved the mouse over an icon

Insert Figure 1 here

to see the options associated with the icon. Trainees mouse clicked an icon to see and do the actions associated with the icon. To begin the simulation, trainees would first click the pencil icon and receive a list of available reports. Trainees would then click on the block called night intake report and analyze the intake for risks to the child, work safety issues, and case priority level. Trainee analysis of the intake was then compared with the analysis of three experts. The experts did not always agree on every observation. Similar analysis and feedback occurred as trainees worked the case and viewed pictures of the house and child (Figure 2). Sound was used to add realism, for example, dogs barked while viewing the outside of the home and the telephone rang with unwelcomed calls when returning to the office.

Insert Figure 2 here

Through the "discovering" of information, the user completed an investigation. The simulation ended when the paperwork was completed. By making choices throughout the simulation, the user accumulated knowledge that was used to complete forms such as a risk assessment form. On all forms, the user received feedback on the correctness of the answers and where the information for the answers was or could have been obtained when working the case.

It was anticipated that the simulation will need to be modified to fit the needs of each training site. For example, some sites may want to print trainee analysis of the pictures of the child for evaluation and discussion (Figure 2).

Hardware and Software Platform. The simulation ran on any computer capable of running Windows 3.1, although the faster the computer, the better. A super VGA monitor with monitor card and drivers to achieve 800X600 resolution with 64,000 colors was required for good quality pictures. A Soundblaster Pro compatible audio card was also required. Currently, TDPRS does not have computers on workers' desk or at the training sites. Thus, the simulation was developed to run on future PC hardware. Multimedia ToolBook was chosen as the authoring system due to its low cost, free run time version, and because it was easy enough for a non-programmer but technology literate social worker to use.

Simulation Objectives. The simulation had the following objectives.

To allow users to experience the complexities of working a real FTT case.

To allow users to make mistakes while working a FTT case without harming a client or themselves.

To reinforce good judgment in the order of events when working an FTT case.

To allow users to discover and apply the knowledge required to work a FTT case.

To allow users to apply what is learned in CPS training to a FTT case.

To allow users to complete required forms from the knowledge base discovered while working a FTT case.

To provide constant monitoring and feedback while working a FTT case.

To improve judgment in working a FTT case by comparing user judgment to expert judgment in:

1. Analyzing an intake for priority, risk to the child, and worker safety

2. Viewing the outside and inside of a house for worker safety and health and safety hazards to the child

3. Viewing a FTT child for risk indicators

Initial Testing Sample and Procedures

The purposive sample consisted of eight trainees and six non-trainees. The trainees were in their third or last month of training at the CPS Training Academy in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Trainees were assigned by trainers on a voluntary basis as their training schedules permitted. The six non-trainees consisted of three trainers, one program director, and two experienced workers who were slotted into night appointments so as not to interfere with casework.

Due to scheduling difficulties, the four modules were completed in one session of approximately two hours. The CBT evaluation instrument consisting of 43 statements was administered by computer. In order to capture spontaneous comments and provide closure to the user, the subject matter expert debriefed users immediately following their completion of the modules.

Results of Testing

The average age of the sample was 34.2. The sample contained 10 females and 10 individuals who had human service related degrees. The sample was very similar to what was expected, except in the area of computer experience. A few trainees had spent substantial time working on a computer, however, the mode score for days of computer experience for trainees and non-trainees was 1 day.

Table 1 presents the results on the 43 evaluation questions where a response of 1=strongly agree, 2=agree, 3=neutral, 4=disagree, and 5=strongly disagree. Table 2 presents open ended comments that have been edited for brevity. The overwhelming response to the case simulation was more positive than anticipated. Eleven of the 43 responses to the questions were in the strongly agree range, 27 were in the agree range, and the 5 remaining were in the neutral range. Most of the neutral responses concerned the preliminary nature of the simulation or were expected due to the nature of the question. Each group of evaluation questions of Table 1 will be briefly discussed following an analysis of trainee versus non-trainee responses.

Table 1. Number of respondents, standard deviation, and mean scores for the evaluation questions

Relevance of the computer based training to your work

N

SD

Mean

The material covered in this case study seems relevant to my job

13

.48

1.31

The comments I received while working the case study were appropriate

14

.77

1.86

Working this case study seemed "true to life"

14

.77

2.14

The resource information presented when using the file cabinet icon seems accurate

13

.80

2.15

*The time constraints provided in this case study seem realistic

13

.85

2.69

Impact of computer based training on your future judgment

Due to comparing my judgment with the judgment of experts, I can better do the following:

Assess a suspected FTT child

14

.52

1.50

View the outside of a client's house for child health and safety risks

14

.55

2.00

View the outside of a client's house for worker safety concerns

13

.69

2.15

*View a client's room for child health and safety risks

14

.43

2.21

View a client's room for worker safety concerns

14

.73

2.29

Learning as a result of completing the computer based training

 

 

 

I gained knowledge about an FTT case by completing this case study

14

.50

1.64

Overall, I am satisfied with my learning from completing this case study

14

.53

1.86

Due to the feedback on the completeness of the knowledge base I accumulated in

13

.49

2.08

this case study, I can construct better knowledge bases when working CPS cases

 

 

 

I better understand the appropriate sequence of activities when working a case

14

.94

2.50

*Due to feedback on my use of time when using this case study, I will better use my time in working CPS cases

13

.73

2.77

I better understand how to complete sections of the risk assessment form

14

.70

3.21

Evaluation of the computer programming

The presentation of the case study was visually appealing

14

.61

1.29

Information in this case study was presented in a clear manner

14

.78

2.00

This case study was easy to use

14

.73

2.07

Using this case study was a pleasant experience

14

.95

2.14

The instructions for using this case study were clear

14

.91

2.29

This case study was polished and relatively free of defects

14

.86

2.86

Evaluation of the design of the training

This case study held my interest

14

.43

1.79

I liked the free form "discovery" approach taken by this case study

14

.73

1.93

I received an adequate number of comments while working the case study

14

.55

2.00

The case study allowed me to make mistakes in a non-judgmental environment

14

.39

2.00

Information was presented in a manner that is consistent with my learning style

14

.97

2.21

I was in control and able to guide my learning experience

14

.94

2.57

The time it took to complete the case study was appropriate

14

.96

3.00

Trainers should be allowed more opportunity to grade my performance during the case study

12

.95

3.00

Suggestions for improving the design of the case study

I prefer more snapshots (still pictures) in the case study

14

.91

2.29

I prefer more video (moving pictures) in the case study

13

1.05

2.46

I prefer more sound in the case study

13

1.05

2.54

I prefer more graphics (drawings) in the case study

14

1.10

2.86

I prefer more text in the case study

14

.70

3.21

Your Perception of Technology Delivered Instruction

Due to completing this case study, I have a more positive perception about the potentials of technology for training

14

.65

1.50

Due to completing this case study, I have a more positive perception about the potentials of technology to support me in my job

14

.73

1.71

I would like more training that uses computer based training techniques

9

.44

1.78

Computer based case studies such as this can be most effective if completed as an integral part of training at the Training Academy

13

.71

2.00

I would like more of my training at the Training Academy delivered by computer

12

.62

2.25

The computer based training techniques used are better at imparting knowledge than traditional training techniques

14

.94

2.50

I prefer computer based training materials, such as this case study, to traditional training materials

13

.87

2.62

Computer based case studies such as this can be most effective if completed before receiving training at the Training Academy

12

.90

3.58

* =-Significant at .05 or greater

 

 Table 2. Selected open ended comments

What users liked about the case simulation:

The ability to seek and gather information from all sources while at the computer.

The help in organizing information appropriately for the case. The feeling you were working on a real case, thus got more involved.

Held my interest. Sort of like a CPS role playing game. Was fun.

The information was thorough and it was helpful to have several expert opinions and the backup resource information. I think it helps people to understand that the answers are not absolute, but that there are a lot of factors in making each case decision.

The graphics are wonderful and truly contribute to the attention-keeping quality of the entire program. This program allows a new worker to learn dynamics in the context of more realistically based casework practice than in traditional lecture-type training. Also, the training is provided in a very non-threatening manner which is conducive to learning by doing without fear. As a whole, the program gives a potential caseworker a better understanding of what it can be like to respond to an actual case in the field, and this can help to alleviate some of the fears that new workers feel about "being out there." The pictures, especially those of Baby Keisha, are extremely vital to the learning process by giving an example of what FTT really looks like.

The addition of photos made the entire exercise much easier to "connect" with on a human level.

I enjoyed having the opportunity to get an actual feel of what I would have to do in case of a real emergency removal.

I really enjoyed the different graphics used in the case study. The combination of still pictures and computer graphics were neat and helped bring the case to life.

Many physical identifiers were mentioned which I had not read of or learned in class. The opportunity to practice the sequencing of events in a removal case without the actual pressures of time and child safety is an excellent training device. This sequence should be (mentally) in place prior to an emergency arising. The addition of photos of the child made the exercise much easier to "connect" with on a human level. The photos turned a computer game into the biography of a real human infant. The graphics were great! The icons were accessible and altogether, this program is extremely user friendly. Even computer novices should not be intimidated by this piece of software.

Suggestions for Improvements

A few more prompts when wandering off course would have been helpful. A few extraneous phone calls would have made it more realistic and frustrating.

At times, it was very unclear what I should do next. As a new worker, I need more guidance and was sometimes unable to figure out what I needed to do. I became "stalled" several times.

The only thing I can think of is a "help" or "hint" menu when students get stuck

The sequence of events is not completely accurate. We need additional opportunities to interview the mother after leaving the house. We wanted to call some people more than one time. Perhaps the supervisor could have her own menu which could include topics of discussion, such as requesting permission to remove, who the ongoing worker will be, further case actions and plans, placement and permanency issues, and court. We want noise! CPS is a noisy place.

 

Trainees Versus Non-Trainee Responses. The debriefing revealed that both trainees and non-trainees found the two hour simulation a long and difficult experience. The common response was that the simulation was as hard as working an actual case. For the trainee, working a simulated case was hard but an experience they sought. For non-trainees, working a case was simply more work. As was expected, non-trainees perceived the simulation to be less realistic than trainees and made suggestions to make the case more accurate.

The mean scores of trainees and non-trainees were compared for significance differences. However, given the very small sample size, few significant differences were expected. Trainees and non-trainee responses were significantly different on three questions in (Table 1). The three questions indicated that the sophistication of some of the material may be an issue. For example, trainees felt the time constraints were significantly more realistic and their judgment increased significantly more than non-trainees on use of time and viewing a client's room for child health and safety risks. Anecdotally, two experienced workers laughed at the picture of a client's room indicating that they had seen much worse and had to "reach for it" to find much that really "endangered" a child. These findings indicate that sophistication of the user should be an important factor in developing a realistic simulation. Since few significant differences existed between trainees and non-trainees, the term respondents will be used to discuss the remaining findings.

Relevance of The Computer Based Training to Your Work. With the exception of the time constraints mentioned above, all the questions measuring CBT relevance were in the agree direction. Since future implementation requires the simulation have face validity, it was important that both trainees and non-trainees found it relevant. While trainees may have found the simulation relevant due to their learning, non-trainees may have found the simulation relevant because it validated their opinions about the case. Caseworkers often share "war stories" to obtain other's reactions to cases that involve difficult decisions and painful emotions. Future research is needed to investigate what makes a simulation relevant as relevance is important for designing CBT for the intended audience.

Impact of Computer Based Training on Your Future Judgment. Responses indicated the most powerful portion of the simulation was examining the pictures of the FTT child and comparing one's responses to those of several experts (Figures 2). Even non-trainees who were nonchalant about the simulation became quiet and interested as they compared their observations with those of experts. Other pictures were not as dramatic, but all pictures positively impacted future judgment. The previous findings of dual coding (Rieber, 1991) and the lack of a long term effects of CBT (MacFadden, 1992) suggest future investigation to determine whether the improved judgment scores on the dual coded parts of the simulation had any long term effects.

Learning as a Result of Completing the Computer Based Training. Overall, respondents strongly agreed that they gained knowledge about an FTT case and were satisfied with the learning that occurred. However, these opinions about learning should be interpreted with caution. Combining non-trainee with trainee responses may have lowered the estimation of the overall learning that occurred because the "experienced" sample should not have learned as much as novice trainees. Another complicating factor was that newly hired trainees may be reluctant to indicate that they are not learning in their initial training.

Evaluation of the Computer Programming. The computer programming of the simulation received high mark, with the exception of the weaknesses the developers knew existed. The use of pictures, graphics, and sound was especially appealing as indicated by many positive comments.

Evaluation of the Design of the Training. Respondents strongly agreed that the simulation held their interest and they liked the discovery approach. Respondents would have preferred working the simulation in small sessions rather than the approximately two hour time frame used in this initial test. The finding that user control was less important than realism was consistent with the Sussman and Lowman finding mentioned earlier. Not surprisingly, respondents disagreed with the need for their performance to be graded. Monitoring is a difficult issue, because trainers and managers usually see grading as one way to weed out unsuited workers. The issue of grading and feedback will be addressed more thoroughly as the simulation is implemented in several sites in 1994.

Suggestions for Improving the Design of the Case Study. Respondents preferred (slightly) more graphics, sound and photographs. Respondents were neutral in their response to the preference for more text. As the multimedia hardware and software improve, simulations will be able to offer trainees more exciting and innovative ways to learn, for example, full motion video.

Your Perception of Technology Delivered Instruction. Respondents strongly agreed that they were not only more positive about CBT for CPS, but wanted more training by CBT. They were slightly less enthusiastic, but still agreed, that they wanted more training at the Academy delivered by computer. This finding was very positive considering that a number of the respondents were trainers at the Training Academy. However, trainees might have worried that a "disagree" answer would be interpreted as a negative response toward the Training Academy. Respondents were neutral on whether CBT was better than traditional training techniques. We expected disagreement with this statement because we believe that CBT techniques are better for some types of training, but worse at others, for example, getting at the emotional content of being a CPS worker. We feel that respondents may have been overly enthusiastic about multimedia and not appreciative of the value of a good trainer.

Open Ended Comments and Observations. Comments and observations from the preliminary testing of this CBT indicated the important role of supervision for trainees. While the trainees averaged 74 days at the Training Academy and 2.6 months CPS experience, they did not have the experience to work a case without close supervision and direction. At work, this direction and supervision may come in casual conversations while socializing. However, in the simulation, the only way to obtain detailed guidance was from the supervisor. Due to this reaction, the supervisor's role in the simulation was greatly enhanced. This finding may also indicate that helping supervisors learn to supervise is an area that needs further examination.

The comments and data indicated trainees were "hungry" for a casework sequence that is orderly and structured. However, non-trainees asked for a change in the process to interview and telephone people more than once and to confer with superiors about many things. Non-trainees generally seemed more comfortable with less structure and a less routine sequence of activities. This finding suggested that developing a case simulation for training experienced workers may be an unrealistic task.

Conclusions

Overall, this study found responses to the multimedia case simulation overwhelmingly positive in its ability to teach trainees. Non-trainees learned as well, but may have found the module lacking sophistication in certain areas involving casework process. However, a dilemma exists. As the sophistication of CBT content increases, the consensus on the content often decreases. We avoided areas where casework as it is taught may conflict with casework as it is practiced in an agency. As multimedia CBT becomes more common in detailing practice, these dilemmas will have to be addressed. Whether we like it or not, the power of multimedia CBT is here and so are the challenges.

References