So I wouldn't feel like I was excluded: The learning experience in computer education for persons with psychiatric disabilities.
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OBJECTIVE: Computer education has become a standard component of many psychiatric rehabilitation programs. Despite this trend, little research has examined the effectiveness of such training programs and the experiences of those who participate. The present study was designed to further knowledge in this area. METHODS: This paper describes an exploratory, qualitative examination of factors that aid in the acquisition of computer skills by 12 adults across 2 settings: a structured, professionally-taught program and a less structured peer-taught setting. Participants were surveyed longitudinally over a 2-month period. RESULTS: Participant narratives suggested the importance of social inclusion as a key source of motivation, with benefits of training described as including improved self-esteem and self-efficacy. Challenges described by some participants included anxiety and attention/concentration difficulties. CONCLUSIONS: These pilot findings highlighted the importance to teaching effectiveness of striking a balance between flexibility and structure, with computer knowledge having broader implications for social inclusion.
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