P. F. (Pat) Anderson

Factors in Student Selection and Demand of CAI Programs: Importance of Usability and Interface Issues

P. F. Anderson & Faith VanToll Ross.
[Presented as a poster session at the MLA Annual Meeting, May 1995.]


The expense, technical concerns and related responsibilities associated with making computer-aided instruction (CAI) available predispose us toward making cost-effective and educationally-effective selection decisions. Identifying factors which determine students' preferences for choosing one CAI title over another, or over print or online resources, would be significant in making these decisions, and may assist CAI developers to design programs more attractive to their intended audience.

In this preliminary study, students participated in a structured interview designed to indentify factors students self-report as significant in choice of program. Students at a moderately sized academic medical center were asked to identify their reason for using a program as they began. Students using CAI on a regular basis were invited to participate in a focused interview process to determine which specific usability, design, and interface issues were most important in their choice of a CAI program. Factors to be examined in the structured interview were derived from a literature review, textbooks on CAI and human interface design, and observation of use patterns, and were enhanced with open-ended questions to the students.

In a subsequent study, the results of this study will be compared with actual use in a two-step process. First, the programs used will be reviewed to determine which previously identified factors are associated with each. Second, the programs will be compared to determine if a profile exists for high use programs. If such a profile exists, it could become a screening mechanism for the selection of CAI programs.

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Date last modified: September 15, 1997.
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