This study investigates how community college students’ current levels of computer technology competence, confidence and attitudes toward technology in learning at a community college are affected by current access to technology and by demographic characteristics as well as by past experiences with computer technology. The research questions guiding this study were the following: (1) What is the nature of community college student experiences using computer technology in the process of learning? (2) How does the community college student perceive the benefits and challenges of the use of computer technology in the process of learning?
The participants in this study were 182 students at a linguistically and ethnically diverse urban community college in Northern California. The students were recruited from four sections of lower division introductory psychology courses taught at the college. The methods of data collection included the use of a survey and ethnographic interviews. The survey collected information regarding demographic factors, past experiences with computer technology, and current experiences regarding which specific technologies are currently used by the participants and the frequency of their use. In addition, information was gathered regarding where, when and how specific technologies currently used by participants are accessed as well as the adequacy of the computer technology services used by participants. Finally, computer competence and confidence were measured as well as attitudes toward computer technology.
This study employed mixed methods in the collection and analysis of data. Quantitative analysis was used in the survey portion by examining the interactions of first generation college student status, age, gender, ethnicity, primary language, hours worked per week, current income, history of access to computer and internet technology, and current access to computer and internet technology with computer technology beliefs, troubleshooting confidence, and types of technology use. Qualitative methodology was also used. A subgroup chosen from the survey respondents was interviewed individually to garner more detail and to get a greater sense of the participants’ individual perspectives, stories, and narratives regarding their personal experiences that lie behind their answers on the survey.
Using an ex post facto factor analysis, the attitudes subscale in the survey was divided into the dependent variables of beliefs and troubleshooting confidence. These dependent variables were measured for impact from the predictor variables of gender, age, ethnicity, first generation college student status, hours worked per week, current income, and history of access variables in multiple regression analyses. Factor analysis and multiple regressions were also used to examine the effects of gender, age, and current income on the participants’ current access to computer technology, such as personal or public access to the internet and types of internet access in the form of mobile or immobile access. Finally, factor analysis and multiple regressions were used to examine the effects of gender, age, and current income on the types of computer technology participants used.
The results showed no significant effects of any of the selected predictor variables on the beliefs of participants regarding the use of computer technology. The results also showed that females tended to have less confidence when troubleshooting problems encountered while using computer technology than males, regardless of age or income. In terms of access, younger participants reported higher levels of the use of public resources with immobile internet access and more use of laptops with wireless connections. The interview data supported the findings of the factor analyses and multiple regressions. The findings were discussed in terms of the persistence of gender disparities in more complex computer technology tasks and cultural shifts regarding the perception of the ubiquity and necessity of the use of computer technology. These cultural shifts appear to be embraced by younger participants, who seem to be more comfortable with high mobility and the perception that internet can be accessed as a public resource regardless of personal resource constraints.
|Advisor:||Ching, Cynthia C.|
|Commitee:||Abedi, Jamal, Laanan, Frankie S., White, Tobin F.|
|School:||University of California, Davis|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||DAI-A 71/11, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Community college education, Educational technology, Higher education|
|Keywords:||Attitudes, California, College, Computer, Computer technology competence, Education, Higher, Student-centered perspective, Technology|
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