Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

A Comparison of Two Measures of Computer Self-Efficacy

Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

A Comparison of Two Measures of Computer Self-Efficacy

Article excerpt


Computer self-efficacy is defined as "... a judgment of one's capability to use a computer." (Compeau & Higgins, 1995: p. 192). The computer self-efficacy (CSE) construct has provided insight into factors affecting skill development and the motivation to use computers (Marakas, Yi, & Johnson, 1998). Previous research, for example, indicates CSE plays a significant role in the development of computer skills (Gist, Schwoerer, & Rosen, 1989), an individual's decision to use computers (Compeau & Higgins, 1995), expectations of success with computers (Compeau, Higgins, & Huff, 1999), and computer-dependent course performance (Karsten & Roth, 1998a). While the early research effort involving CSE has been fruitful and informative, the identification and measurement of CSE is of research and practical concern (Marakas et al., 1998). This concern has led to a call for additional research that leads to improved measurement of CSE, and better understanding of the nature of the CSE construct (Marakas et al., 1998).

This study answers this call through a comparison of two popular measures of CSE. A review of the literature indicates that versions of the CSE scales developed independently by Murphy, Coover and Owen (1989) and Compeau and Higgins (1995) have been two of the most frequently employed measures in CSE studies conducted to date (Marakas et al. 1998). Though both measures attempt to capture the same construct (Marakas et al., 1998), visual inspection of the respective measures (see appendix) suggests obvious differences in approach to CSE assessment. Murphy et al. (1989) measure CSE as an individual's perceptions of his or her ability to accomplish specific tasks and activities involved in operating a computer. Compeau & Higgins (1995), on the other hand, assess CSE as an individual's perceptions of his or her ability to use a computer application in the accomplishment of a job.

Though both measures have provided meaningful insights into computing behavior, it is reasonable to ask if the two instruments capture the same CSE construct. Answering this question appears likely to benefit both the research and applied communities. From a research perspective, a comparison of measures is a step toward improving and refining measurement of the CSE construct. From the applied perspective, such a comparison should assist computer educators and trainers in the selection of the most relevant and informative available tool for assessing the computer skills and behaviors of students and trainees. Therefore, this study has several purposes: (a) to directly compare the two measures to determine if they are capturing the same construct, (b) to compare the nature of the information each measure supplies relevant to the assessment and understanding computing skills and behaviors (c) to identify any apparent advantages or disadvantages in administration or analysis.

The paper is organized as follows. A brief overview of the self-efficacy and computer self-efficacy constructs is provided first. A review of the CSE literature relevant to the comparison of two CSE measures investigated is presented next. Study methodology is then described, followed by the presentation and discussion of study results. Study conclusions, limitations, and directions for future research complete the paper.


Computer self-efficacy is based on self-efficacy, a well-established construct with its origins in Social Cognitive Theory (Bandura, 1986). Self-efficacy is the belief one has capability to perform a specific task (Bandura, 1997). Individuals who perceive themselves capable of performing certain tasks or activities are defined as high in self-efficacy and are more likely to attempt and execute these tasks and activities. People who perceive themselves as less capable are less likely to attempt and execute these tasks and activities, and are accordingly defined as lower in self-efficacy (Barling & Beattie, 1983; Bandura, Adams, & Beyer, 1977). …

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