Likewise, a similar study by Desai et al. (2000) that compared traditional lecture format training with CBT found that, “The CBT subjects overall end-of-training and one-month-after-training performance was significantly better than [the traditional lecture method] subjects performance” (p. 239).
By sharp contrast, the analysis of the effectiveness of CBT by Bowman et al. (2009) found that the effectiveness of this alternative can be adversely affected by a number of Navy-specific factors, including the pace of operations in some settings, an enormously diverse population that often requires more individualized instruction, and that self-paced formats can actually serve to increase student failure rates. Nevertheless, Dye (2004) emphasizes that the Navy has taken steps to integrate lessons learned and best practices into newly developed CBT curricular offerings, and notes that improvements in the support technologies continue to provide better ways of individualizing computer-based training opportunities in the future. In fact, one of the keystones to the Navys Revolution in Training is the ability of CBT to be tailored to the individual learners needs. For instance, according to Peck, “The Navy system relies on individualized training instead of rigid classroom instruction will produce better-qualified sailors more quickly. The revolution in training (RIT) replaces traditional rote classroom with the tailored training they need for their tasks — and then ensures that they are assigned to those positions for which they are best qualified” (2004, p. 67). Rear Admiral Kevin Moran, the chief of Naval Personnel Development Command cited this aspect of the Revolution in Training initiative in particular as helping the Navy better align mission objectives with individual training needs. “We are marching toward a solution that allows you to tailor a course depending on where that sailor is going in the Navy, what platform theyre going to serve on, and what they need to know to serve in that exact position” (quoted in Peck, 2004 at p. 67). The “revolutionary” aspect of the Navys ongoing Revolution in Training initiative also relates to this improved alignment. As Peck points out, “Historically, there has been no direct link between mission requirements of fleet units and the training sailors received. The Revolution in Training [initiative] addresses this problem by using human resources practices [found] in the corporate sector” (2004, p. 67).
Researchers have found that humans learn best when information is delivered in ways that take advantage of memory resources. For instance, in Chapter 7, Memory and Training, Wickens (1999) advises, “Spatial tasks are less disrupted by employment of the phonological loop to handle subsidiary information-processing tasks” (p. 244). In other words, CBT resources should not place dual demands on students spatial memory resources. Likewise, Wickens adds that, “Correspondingly, tasks involving heavy demands on verbal working memory such as editing texts, computing numbers, and using symbolic-based computers, are more disrupted by concurrent voice input and output than by visuospatial interaction (e.g., control with a mouse) (p. 244). This observation suggests that CBT applications will be more effective when they use different visual and auditory sensory cues rather than using one or the other in isolation from other educational resources.
Similarly, an analysis of the relative effectiveness of various approaches to CBT by Yi and Davis (2001) found that a combination of retention enhancement activities together with practice sessions to promote retention produced better overall results. Likewise, the Naval Inspector Generals report (2009) also made the point that CBT is most effective when it is used in a blended environment that incorporates both CBT and problem-based and hands-on learning opportunities, and the mandates of the Revolution in Training also require an optimum blend of training resources. In this regard, Dye reports that, “Given training requirements, the training command will deliver training solutions via residency courses, computer-based training (CD ROM, Internet LAN), correspondence courses, or on-the-job training” (p. 9).
Despite the progress made in developing effective CBT applications for the Navy to date, there are some significant problems that remain firmly in place, some of which are organizational and involve “turf” issues that may be exceedingly difficult to overcome. For example, Hayes emphasizes that, “Training problems are cumbersome to deal with due to fragmentation at the [the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations] level…. [T] he Fleet [commanders in chief], [Naval Education and Training Command] and the [Systems Commands] all own and operate commands that conduct training in major Fleet concentration areas” (2008, p. 78). Although efforts have been made to more fully integrate the Navys training resources, these disparities will clearly affect the ability of the service to develop more effective CBT approaches.
In this regard, Hayes adds that, “For the most part, these commands act as independent agencies, each using its resources to conduct training in support of its own mission. Although these training facilities are seldom fully utilized, the Navy rarely looks across the different commands to accomplish training missions” (2008, p. 79).
Taken together, it is apparent that it is possible and desirable to develop and administer computer-based training opportunities that can contribute to the accomplishment of mission objectives, but is also clear that there are a number of factors that must be taken into account in this process. For instance, Kraiger emphasizes that, “Clearly, the effectiveness of [CBT] will depend in large part on the way it is used. Most authors agree that the most powerful influence on learning from instructional technologies like computers is not the nature of the technology itself but what is delivered with it” (2002, p. 193). Although it is reasonable to suggest that state-of-the-art computers with lightning-fast processing speeds will produce superior outcomes compared to the slower computers that comprise part of the legacy hardware still in use by the Navy, the observation by Kraiger (2002) makes it clear that simply throwing more expensive hardware and software at the training problem is not the answer. As Krainger concludes, “Poorly designed training will not stimulate and support learning no matter how appealing or expensive the technology used. As a result, it is imperative that the growth in computer-based training be matched by a greater understanding of how to use technology in order to support learning” (p. 193).
Furthermore, not only does the manner in which subject matter content is delivered using computer-based training affect academic outcomes, the mix of other educational resources that are also used can make a substantial difference as well. Consequently, it is vitally important to develop training programs for CBT settings that are specifically designed for this medium rather than simply transferring existing traditionally delivered training programs into a CBT application in a wholesale fashion. Therefore, in order to help inform this process, the following three human systems domains will be taken into account in the study proposed herein.
Three Human Systems Domains
Much like the use of CBT by the Navy, the integration of human systems into system acquisition has a length history in the armed forces in general and the Navy in particular. In fact, over the past half century, problems with the provision of effective and timely training resulted in all of the armed services embracing human-systems integration (Jones & Kennedy, 2002). According to these authorities “In 1988 these efforts culminated in a Department of Defense (DoD) directive formally supporting the concept of integrating human factors into system acquisition” (Jones & Kennedy, 2002, p. 167). The DoD issues a subsequent directive in 1991 that expanded the concept even further. In this regard, Jones and Kennedy add that, “The stated purpose of the new directive was to establish a disciplined management approach for acquiring military systems in which the users needs and requirements would be the first priority in all phases of the acquisition process” (p. 168). The Naval Postgraduate School identifies several areas that are involved in human systems integration, including:
1. Human Factors Engineering
2. System Safety
3. Health Hazards
4. Personnel Survivability
8. Habitability (Human systems integration, 2010).
Of these foregoing basic areas, the following were selected as being the most relevant to the purpose of the proposed study (although a case could be made for habitability in terms of the effect of the physical environment on learning):
1. Human Factors Engineering: This domain focuses on optimizing human-machine performance through effective system design (Human systems integration, 2010).
2. Manpower: This domain relates to the number and composition of people who operate, maintain, support, and provide training for a system (Human systems integration, 2010).
3. Training: Finally, this domain involves the instruction, education, and training that are required to provide personnel with the knowledge, skills and abilities needed to operate and maintain systems (Human systems integration, 2010).
The proposed study will be guided by the following hypotheses:
Computer-based training will provide statistically significant improved training as measured by academic outcomes.
Computer-based training will not provide statistically significant improved training as measured by academic outcomes.
Academic outcomes using CBT will be further.