An Examination of Computer Attitudes, Anxieties, and Aversions among Diverse College Populations: Issues Central to Understanding Information Sciences in the New Millennium

Article excerpt

Overview

Definitions of Computer Attitude, Anxiety, Aversion, and Avoidance

Students' attitudes toward the various aspects of information science are manifest in varying manners and degrees. Irritation, bewilderment, frustration, and feelings of panic are emotional boundaries that many computer educators face in the academic world of today. Expressions such as computer avoidance, computer anxiety, computer aversion, and computer-phobia are used with regularity in an effort to categorize these emotions. These terms are ingrained in the literature of a plethora of computer based journal articles if Gordon (1995), Burkett (1993), Fletcher and Deeds (1994), Givens (1998), Tobias (1979), Fajou (1997), Bohlin (1999), and others are an example.

Fajou (1997) uses the definition of "distress or uneasiness of mind caused by apprehension of danger or misfortune" when writing of computer anxiety. Bohlin (1999) notes that "a computer anxious learner is one who is nervous, distracted, and physically and emotionally uncomfortable in the presence of or under the expectation of interacting with a computer."

The Literature of Computer Attitude, Anxiety, Aversion, and Avoidance

The literature would seem to indicate that computer anxiety leads to computer avoidance via computer aversion or computer phobia associated with various demographics (gender, age, ethnicity, etc.), at times, acting as key elements in the algorithm. According to Yang et al. (1999) "There are a number of studies on the relationship of computer experience with computer anxiety ..." They list eight authors in their article for the Journal of Industrial Teacher Education that have studied demographic variables. They also list six authors that have noted direct relationships between computer-related experience and computer anxiety and four articles that examine the relationship of demographic variables and computer anxiety.

Green et al. (1993) states that "Attitudes (about computers) have been examined by several researchers..." and goes on to name five including Meier (1988), the developer of the Computer Aversion Scale (CAV), the basis for the survey conducted for this paper. Brosnan (1998) lists gender, level of experience, computer attitude, educational level, knowledge of computers, external locus of control and attitudes toward mathematics as correlates to computer anxiety and avoidance.

Numerous authors, as outlined above, have associated computer anxiety with many correlates. Demographics, computer experience (or lack of), attitude toward computers, and educational level, either directly or indirectly may lead to computer anxiety that in due course can be an advocate of computer avoidance. While the percentage of respondents indicating that they were not comfortable about using computers was small it is significant that it still is an identifiable factor.

Method

Participants and College Sites

The participants were 578 college students (216 men and 363 women) from three colleges located in southern Florida.

After exclusion of incomplete surveys, the data were analyzed for a total of 565 surveys. Summary statistics for the respondents affiliated with each college site are presented in Table 1. As can be seen in this table, school-associated age differences were observed, [F.bar](2, 565) = 38.65, [p.bar] < .001. Post hoc examination (Tukey, [p.bar] < .05) of this observation revealed that the Business College (BC) students were significantly older ([M.bar] = 27.79 years, [SD.bar] = 6.93 years) than students from the other schools ([M.bar]s = 22.95 & 21.54 years, [SD.bar]s = 7.29 & 5.60 years, Community College (CC) & Liberal Arts College (LAC), respectively), which did not differ significantly.

All sites were Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) accredited and granted undergraduate degrees appropriate to their charters. …