J. E. Weirich, MEd; C. Probart, PhD, RD, LD; and E. McDonnell, MS, R D. Penn State University, Nutrition Department, University Park, PA 16802.
To aid in creating a computer training program for School Food Service Directors (SFSD) and eventually, to measure its success, a survey was administered to a random sample of 200 SFSD across the state.
The response rate was 52%. The survey was designed to assess computer use, computer skills, attitudes toward computers, and barriers to computer use. Almost 80% of respondents represented public schools. 73% were female and 65% were over 40 years old. Most had already attended some type of computer training and nearly all (93%) expressed interest in future training. With the opportunity to choose from among four training options, Beginning or Intermediate General Computer Skills or Beginning or Intermediate Computerized Nutrient Analysis, responses were rather evenly distributed and no outstanding preferences were revealed, although selections of the Beginner level in both categories outnumbered Intermediate level selections. External restrictions, such as, "I don't have money for attending a training session" were cited as "most important barriers to computer use". Nobody selected, "I'm not comfortable using a computer" or "Learning to use a computer would be too difficult for me" in this category. Nearly three quarters of the group reported already using computers at work and nearly half of those who don't use computers at all are at least "ready to learn." Most know how to turn on a computer and a few other rudimentary skills. Skills least often claimed were those which involved performing nutrient analysis tasks. Although Likert scale measurements of feelings about computers elicited apprehensions from some about computer use making them "nervous" and "confused", 70% expressed the highest level of agreement when asked if they felt computers are very useful for performing nutrient analysis. Correlations were not found between demographic data and the other areas of concern addressed by the survey. As a result of data from this instrument it can be construed that SFSD of all backgrounds are interested in using computers in their work and are interested in various levels of training. In particular, training on computerized nutrient analysis may be needed for those directors interested in analyzing their menus. However, a major barrier to attending training programs is cost.