Academic journal article Education

An Attitudinal Comparison toward Computers between Underclassmen and Graduating Seniors

Academic journal article Education

An Attitudinal Comparison toward Computers between Underclassmen and Graduating Seniors

Article excerpt

Introduction

Due to the increased use of personal computers in class work at university campuses, many students are faced with mastering a tool that may appear threatening to them. Some surveys show that many individuals are optimistic about the potential benefits of computers in promoting a new era of faster and more efficient performance and improved productivity (Lee, 1970). On the other hand, other research focuses on the concerns and problems that come with computer use. Such problems may include computer phobia, technostress, loss of privacy, depersonalization, and fear (Meier, 1985). Consequently, there is a growing concern that negative attitudes toward computers might affect individual motivation and performance (Eason & Damodaran, 1981; Shneiderman, 1979).

Purpose of Study

The purpose of this study is to statistically test the effectiveness of the 24 item Attitude Toward computer Scale (ATCS) developed by Francis (1993) for measuring college students attitudes toward computers. The tests students are divided into the following two groups: 1) underclassmen and 2) graduating seniors. For these two groups their attitudes toward computers are compared as affected by several student demographic factors. These factors include a) group (underclassmen verses seniors), b) gender, c) number of university computer courses completed, d) number of high school computer courses completed, e) years of computer experience, f) students' grade point average, g) overall knowledge of computer, and h) ownership of a computer.

Background

The issue of negative attitudes toward computers becomes especially important if found to be concentrated among certain categories of individuals having particular background characteristics. There is a risk that such negative attitudes may prevent these groups from gaining access to or effectively using computers in their work places and may even limit their chances of getting and holding employment. The importance of these likely outcomes becomes even clearer now that generally accepted work force predictions suggest that society is moving toward requiring more information intensive types of jobs utilizing computers (Omar, 1992).

Francis (1993) developed a new measure of attitude toward computer scale (ATCS) to measure students' attitudes toward computers for use among undergraduate students which operationalizes the affective attitudinal domain. Item selection, the internal structure of the scale and content validity were established using a sample of 378 first year undergraduate students in Wales. The process of determining the 24 item scale involved a factor analysis condensation of five other scales totaling 97 items. The strongest factor pertained to the affective attitudinal domain which explained a very large portion of the attitude measure's variance.

Some previous empirical studies have shown a positive association among various student demographic variables and students' attitudes toward computers. Clement (1981) found that college students have positive attitudes toward computers in general. For these students, learning how to use computers is a rewarding and pleasant experience. Koohang (1987) reported that the students' grade level significantly affected their attitudes toward computers. Omar (1992) found that students in upper-level classes have more positive attitudes toward computers than do students in lower level classes. Of course by that time, these students would have had more experiences to learn how a computer can benefit them.

Some researchers have found the relationship of student gender to computer attitude to be statistically significant, with female students exhibiting more positive attitudes toward the computer than male students (Loyd & Gressard, 1984). Miura & Hess (1983) suggest that the relationship between gender and students' computer attitudes is especially important because failure to acquire computer literacy may become a barrier to women's advancement in certain careers. …

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