Promoting awareness of autism in populations who work with children may result in an earlier diagnosis of the condition. In this study, a computer assisted learning (CAL) package, containing educationally appropriate knowledge about autism was developed; and the effectiveness of this CAL package was evaluated.
The CAL package was developed using computer software, "Xerte" and "Flash Macromedia". The effectiveness of the CAL package was evaluated in 32 childcare students in the UK, who were randomised to watch the CAL package or to read the information leaflet containing the same information (n = 16 in each group). Retention performance, level of enjoyment, and level of confidence to identify a child with autism, after the interventions, were evaluated. The data obtained from two studied groups was analysed using unpaired Student's t-test, 95% confidence interval, and effect size.
Students who watched the CAL package had superior retention performance percentage scores (p = 0.02, 95% CI = 0.83–12.19, effect size = 0.8) and level of enjoyment (p = 0.04, 95% CI = 0.03–2.75, effect size = 0.7) compared with students who read the information leaflet. However, there was no significant difference in level of confidence to identify a child with autism (p = 0.39, 95% CI = -1.80–0.72, effect size = -0.3).
The CAL package developed was an effective method of educating people who work with children about autism.