HOME-STUDY DRIVER EDUCATION
Even though the exit exam was considered to be a more valid measure of knowledge of the driver education curriculum, and the home-study courses were as effective as the classroom courses in teaching this material, the classroom courses were clearly superior to home study courses in preparing students to pass the DMV written test. One possible explanation for this is that classroom instructors may have focused more on the actual questions on the DMV’s exam.
The higher percentage of students who did not complete the classroom and PEN courses could have biased some or all of the comparisons in favor of students who completed these courses, especially those completing PEN, given the higher dropout rate for this instruction method. However, any favoring of classroom over home study as a result of its higher course noncompletion rate did not make classroom students perform better than home-study students on the study exit exam.
The findings that home-study courses are at least as effective as classroom courses in teaching the driver education curriculum offers support for allowing the use of home- study driver education as an option in California. The results indicate that computer- based courses may be more effective than strictly paper-based workbook courses; however, even students who completed the workbook course performed as well as classroom students on the study exit exam.
Improvement of Driver Education
The findings of this evaluation also shed light on the usefulness of computer-based methods of teaching driver education as compared to other methods. The evidence suggests that students who completed the courses involving computer-based and internet instruction performed better on the study exit examination than did those in the purely paper-based workbook course and the classroom courses. There is even evidence that computer courses can be effective in improving student attitudes about safe driving. The use of interactive technology has been recommended by some traffic safety researchers as a way of improving the effectiveness of driver education in general, and these findings provide support for this view.
The traffic safety researchers have also recommended ways to improve driver education and training by integrating them with existing graduated licensing programs. Specifically, they recommend that driver education and training be multi-staged, with a basic driver education course before teens learn how to drive and an advanced course after they have gained some experience driving on the road. More complex topics, such as risk perception, might be better taught in the advanced course where experience on the road might make these topics more understandable. Two possible roadblocks to implementing such a two-staged system would be the prohibitive cost and time requirements of multiple courses on parents. Finding that home-study, particularly the computer based courses, were effective educational methods for driver education, suggests that the use of the home-study courses as part of a two-staged driver education system may make such a system feasible. Such courses, once made, should be relatively inexpensive, therefore placing minimal demand on the finances and time of parents. Home-study courses may also have the additional benefit of increasing