Computer-assisted instruction (CAI) as a teaching tool for occupational therapy education: A guide to understand CAI design and effectiveness




Galvis, Angie

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There is a growing body of evidence that computer-assisted instruction (CAI) can enhance the quality of education, supporting or replacing traditional classroom lecture (TCL) while providing learners with presentations that fit their needs. CAI is used in the educational programs of many allied health and nursing professions. However, there is limited research in the use of this type of material and its effectiveness in occupational therapy educational programs. The primary purpose of this research was to compare the effects of CAI versus traditional teaching methods with occupational therapy students. To explore the topic, three consecutive and inter-related studies were conducted.

The first study was a systematic literature review that included a meta-analysis portion. This phase of the research was a comprehensive review and analysis of literature addressing the effectiveness of CAI versus other traditional teaching methods in the allied health and nursing professions. Statistical analysis along with vote-counting and qualitative analysis were used to determine CAI effective and other effects of this teaching method reported in the literature in the last two and half decades.

The second study was the development of instructional design guidelines for developing CAI materials and its application to occupational therapy education. This phase of the research focused on the development of guidelines for the design and implementation of CAI materials that lead to the creation and assessment of a CD-ROM. The development of the guidelines was based on instructional design and self-learning principles.

The third study was a pilot study based on phase I and II results. This phase was a quasi-experimental study evaluating a CAI material versus traditional classroom lecture with a group of occupational therapy entry-level masters students. Qualitative and quantitative data were obtained in order to understand the effects of CAI as a teaching tool and the learners' attitudes toward CAI.

The result of this research can assist occupational therapy and other allied health educators to understand the advantages CAI materials can provide if they are properly designed and implemented in their classes. This research indicated that CAI is an effective alternative to traditional classroom lecture to teach practical skills and theoretical knowledge. It was found that CAI provides faster instruction while providing learner-centered training. Finally, this researcher proposed CAI design guidelines, based on instructional design and self-instruction principles, to assist educators embarking on the development of CAI to guarantee that the final instructional product is effective and efficient.