Development of a construction methodology of goal directed, optimal complexity, flexible and task oriented (GOFT) training materials for novice computer users : application and evaluation in adults with mental health problems
A number of information technology schemes have been developed in order to provide people with mental health problems the opportunity to acquire skills in micro-computer technology. Even though positive results have been reported a high incidence of dropouts during the beginning of the training have been found. The research is based on the assumption that in order for a computer training method to be effective in fostering computer skills and confidence to adult novice users with mental health problems has to: (a) bridge the gap between the user's capacities, needs, and preferences and the demands of the computer interfaces and their real task applications; (b) consider the ways adult novice users prefer to learn and the skill acquisition theories; (c) facilitate a goal directed interaction with the computer system; (d) maintain an optimal complexity level across training; and (e) allow flexibility of use. Based on the relevant literature, a methodology model and a set of design propositions and construction guidelines have been derived and have been implemented for the development of Goaldirected, optimal complexity, Flexible & Task oriented (GOFT) training materials for adult, novice users with mental health problems. The GOFT training materials were based on three different models, the one for the creation of a goal directed instruction format and the other two for the organisation of the training, and the estimation of the difficulty level of each new computer operation or real task application. Evaluation of use of the GOFT Training Materials by 34 adult, novice users (aged 18-51) with mental health problems revealed positive results. More specifically, the use of the GOFT training materials as compared to traditional methods resulted in a significant increase in the number of participants at the different training stages (85.3% versus 47.2%; and 44.5% versus 22.2% at three and twelve months respectively), in perfect & regular attendance rate ( 44,12% versus 11.11% & 32.35% versus 16.67%) and in the performance level (means of 3.75 versus 2.67) of the users. The subjective evaluation by the users also revealed significant differences between the GOFT and traditional training materials. In their evaluation the GOFT materials were rated significantly higher in terms of systematic arrangement, personal affect, understandability, task relevance, fitness, sense of control, confidence in using the mastered functions and in supporting goal directed learning approach.