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Software Review Form

Software Review Summary (Reprinted with permission from JTHS, Copyright Haworth Press)

Software Product: Keisha: A Case Simulation in Failure to Thrive. Version 4 (May 1997)

Keywords: Failure to Thrive; Computer-Based Training; Computer-Assisted Instruction; Simulation; Child Protection Training.

Product Summary: Keisha is an interactive, multimedia, computer-based training simulation for child protection professionals that focuses on a failure-to-thrive case situation.

Evaluation Summary: In summary, an engaging, informative and credible training simulation that supports other training approaches in child protection. Although developed within a Texas context, the software can potentially be used in other jurisdictions, with or without modifications.

Source: Dick Schoech, Ph.D. Professor, University of Texas at Arlington, School of Social Work, Box 19129, Arlington, TX 76019-0129; Phone (817) 272-3964 Fax (817) 272-2046, Internet:schoech@uta.edu

Product Detail: Free to anyone in the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services

Test Hardware: The systems used in this review were Pentium 90 or Pentium 100 systems with SVGA cards, color monitors and within a computer lab setting. Keisha was installed on each machine separately, as a stand-alone application. Use of Keisha on the computer network was not tested.

Reviewer: Robert MacFadden, M.S.W., Ph.D., M.S.W. Studies Co-ordinator, Associate Professor, Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto, 246 Bloor Street West, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5S 1A1. Phone: (416) 978-5818; Fax: (416) 978-7072; Internet, robert.macfadden@utoronto.ca.

Review Methodology:

This review of Keisha occurred within the context of two groups. The first group was comprised of 17 graduate students in social work enrolled in an Information Technology in Social Work summer course. The second group included 11 child protection professionals who were asked to review Keisha for possible adoption by the child protection network in Ontario, Canada. Most of the comments that follow and all of the specific ratings reported are based on feedback from this latter group of 11 child protection professionals.

As background, Keisha was developed using Asymetrixís Multimedia ToolBook as an authoring system. Test results of the first version was published in an earlier issue of Computers in Human Services (Satterwhite & Schoech, 1995).

Product Overview

Keisha is a computer-based simulation program which presents the user with a failure-to-thrive, child protection case involving a newborn infant named Keisha which is based on an actual case situation. The user experiences the image of a worker at a desk surrounded by pictures which reflect major tools, resources, and persons within child protection. These images include a pencil for recording, a car for home visits, file cabinet for records and databases, people in a meeting, telephone and the choice of either an owl or shark which represents the supervisor. The user is presented with a case and is escorted through the various steps and resources. The image of the worker is individualized through a choice of gender-based graphics along with the use of a name. Keisha presents four learning modules: the referral; the home visit; casework activity; forms and feedback.

Worker Feedback

The 11 child protection professionals in this evaluation, were given an assessment grid to record their ratings of Keisha. The survey also contained open-ended questions asking what should be modified, whether they would recommend adoption for their network and inviting other responses. These forms were completed during the scheduled two hour session. Not all participants completed Keisha. This group was largely female and most were experienced in child protection front-line work, supervision and training. The responses below are a summary of the ratings that were selected for each dimension. Not all respondents completed all ratings for each dimension.

DIMENSION

Unsatisfactory

Poor

O.K.

Good

Excellent

General user friendliness    

2

6

3

Clarity of purpose    

1

2

7

Ability to move in & out of program

1

1

6

3

 
Clarity of instructions, content  

2

1

8

 
Use of multimedia  

1

5

3

2

On-line help

1

 

3

3

3

Logical order or sense of unity    

5

5

1

Appropriateness to target group    

1

4

3

Method of instruction (e.g., simulation) & appropriateness to learning objectives    

1

7

3

How will system handle usersí responses (e.g., accurately and in a supportive manner)

2

7

1

Relevance of content to Ontario and local target group    

4

6

1

How recent is the information? Are current sources used?  

1

1

6

2

Accuracy of content, e.g., errors in fact, spelling, grammar

1

 

3

3

2

Intuitiveness of program (i.e., can almost guess what to do next)  

2

2

7

 

This summary reflects a positive evaluation of Keisha among these protection professionals who were unanimous in recommending use of the program for Ontario settings. When the question was raised whether Keisha could be used without modification, most supported this. Some respondents believed that it would be better to eliminate or reframe some terminology related to Texas Child Protective Services (CPS) realities such as "food stamps" and titles of legal counsel. Differences in legislation and CPS processes were noted but were not seen as serious. It was suggested that the last module on "Forms and Feedback", which relates specifically to Texas, could either be ignored or disabled. There is also a possibility of substituting Ontario (or other municipalities) forms in this module with programming assistance.

Respondents also noted that Keisha should be used in the context of a range of training supports including supervision and small learning groups that could address any problems of accuracy or local relevancy. Being able to accept Keisha without modification was viewed as positive and cost-effective. Developing this type of quality, computer-based training material is expensive and can be prohibitive for many networks. According to the manual, Keisha required approximately 4000 hours of program development and evaluation by a team of specialists.

Certain themes emerged related to modifications. Several users wished for more flexibility to be able to move back and forth within screens. Each screen could also be numbered so the user would know what module and what screen was being reviewed. This would also assist in reference and location. Some users noted that while the program looked like it offered flexibility, learners were basically guided in the directions they could take. Some wanted to be able to call on the supervisor at various points, or to use the telephone at times when this was not possible within the program. This reflects the limitations of any simulation of reality.

There were some problems related to viewing the pictures. The pictures of the house and child, although reasonably clear, were not detailed enough or contained enough contrast in some cases to be able to discriminate all the features that the assessment depended on. It may have been possible to enhance the resolution of each computer to improve the display but this was not feasible at the time of the evaluation. The documentation that comes with Keisha, however, is explicit about the hardware and video requirements.

One bug was found by a few respondents in the section where the user is consulting with the supervisor concerning completing the task list. Their computers locked up and had to be restarted. This was the only serious problem encountered.

Content suggestions were offered, related to including more of the parentís situation and involvement and the environmental context to enrich the case detail and assessment. Adding more dates such as the childís birth date, date of home visit and hospital admission would make for a more realistic and, hopefully, better assessment of risk. Respondents particularly valued the resources section and database on child development. This database could be detached from the program and used as a stand-alone decision-support, reference system for practitioners with minor additional programming.

Most respondents valued the comparison of the userís response with the three expertsí responses. Suggestions included giving background details as to who these experts are to enhance system credibility. Keisha makes the user compare responses with the expertsí responses and offers no evaluation of this comparison. Some respondents wanted more direct learning assessment and feedback of user progress directly from Keisha.

Conclusion

In summary, Keisha represents a credible, quality, child protection training software for exploring failure-to-thrive case situations. Although concern over typical hardware configurations within social agencies has limited its multimedia features, there is potential to add sound, more animation, video and possibly WWW access to enhance the experience.

Reference

Satterwhite R., & Schoech, D. (1995). Multimedia training for child protective service workers: Results of initial development and testing, Computers in Human Services, 12(1/2), 81-97.