An Examination of Self-Reported Computer Literacy Skills of Preservice Teachers

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<ul><li><p>This article was downloaded by: [Trinity International University]On: 05 October 2014, At: 23:49Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK</p><p>Action in Teacher EducationPublication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/uate20</p><p>An Examination of Self-ReportedComputer Literacy Skills of PreserviceTeachersCaryl J. Sheffield aa California University of Pennsylvania , USAPublished online: 04 Jan 2012.</p><p>To cite this article: Caryl J. Sheffield (1996) An Examination of Self-Reported ComputerLiteracy Skills of Preservice Teachers, Action in Teacher Education, 17:4, 45-52, DOI:10.1080/01626620.1996.10463352</p><p>To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01626620.1996.10463352</p><p>PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE</p><p>Taylor &amp; Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (theContent) contained in the publications on our platform. However, Taylor &amp; Francis,our agents, and our licensors make no representations or warranties whatsoever as tothe accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinionsand views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors,and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor &amp; Francis. The accuracy of the Contentshould not be relied upon and should be independently verified with primary sourcesof information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable for any losses, actions, claims,proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages, and other liabilities whatsoever orhowsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with, in relation to or arisingout of the use of the Content.</p><p>This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Anysubstantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing,systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden. Terms &amp;Conditions of access and use can be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions</p><p>http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/uate20http://www.tandfonline.com/action/showCitFormats?doi=10.1080/01626620.1996.10463352http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01626620.1996.10463352http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditionshttp://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions</p></li><li><p>Action in Teacher Education Winter 1996, Vol. XVII, No. 4, pp. 45-52 </p><p>An Examination of Self-Reported Computer Literacy Skills of Preservice Teachers </p><p>Caryl J. Sheffield California University of Pennsylvania </p><p>Abstract </p><p>The author examined the experience of preservice teachers in word processing, database, and spreadsheet sofnvare. A questionnaire was administered to 772 students enrolled in an introductory educational computing course over a period of four academic years. The author analyzed the relationship of gender, academic classijication, comfort with computers, academic year and other personal computer (PC) experience to students ' self-reported computer literacy skills. Students reported more experience with word processing than database and spreadsheet software. Males reported more experience with database and spreadsheet software than females. Students who were computer phobic and students who had no other PC experience reported less experience with all three applications than students who were comfortable with computers and students who had other PC experience, respectively. Respondents from the most recent academic year reported more experience with word processing than respondents from previous years. Implications of these findings for teacher education programs are discussed. </p><p>There is no question that the number of microcomputers in K-12 schools has increased over the past 15 years. In 1981, it was reported that there were 15,000 schools with computers; that number had grown to about 77,000 by 1988. The percentage of elementary and secondary schools that has at least one computer has increased from 18% in 1981 to 95 % in 1988. As of the late 1980s, there were between 1.2 and 1.7 million computers in U S . public schools, which translates into an average of one computer for every thirty children (Office of Technology Assessment, 1988). It is projected that by the spring of 1995 the ratio will have decreased to one computer for every 9 students (Office of Technology Assessment, 1995). </p><p>With more and more students in K-12 schools having access to computers, it might be expected that high school graduates, particularly those who matriculate at a college or university, have some degree of computer literacy skills. Recent research suggests, however, that most college students have had little experience with a personal computer prior to entering the university. A 1991 survey conducted at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst found that slightly more than half (50.9%) of the students had used a personal computer "very little" or "not at all" before coming to the university, 31.6% had used a PC "somewhat," and 17.6% had used a PC "a great deal" (McAulay, 1993). Similar results have been found by researchers examining computer literacy trends in preservice teacher education, where most students are female (Beaver, 1990). Cardinale's (1992) findings </p><p>45 </p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Tri</p><p>nity</p><p> Int</p><p>erna</p><p>tiona</p><p>l Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity] </p><p>at 2</p><p>3:49</p><p> 05 </p><p>Oct</p><p>ober</p><p> 201</p><p>4 </p></li><li><p>suggest that the majority of female preservice teachers lack extensive prior experience with computing; the experience they do have is limited to word processing, databases, and games. </p><p>In this paper, the computer literacy skills of preservice teachers are examined. The major motivation for the study was the perceived discrepancy between access to computer technology in high school and the actual skills of the students as demonstrated at the beginning of an introductory educational computing course. In general, students exhibited a lack of familiarity with both computer hardware and software. Meanwhile, discussions among teacher education colleagues reflected a desire to revise the educational computing curriculum, moving away from such widely used productivity tools as word processing and spreadsheets toward advanced computer-based multi-media instructional technologies, e.g. CD-ROM and laser disk. Such a change would require basic computer literacy as a prerequisite to an advanced educational technology course. Anecdotal evidence, however, may be an inadequate source of information for making important curriculum-related decisions. Thus, it was decided to collect, over several semesters, quantitative data related to the nature of students computer literacy skills. This information could then be used to guide curricular revisions. </p><p>The purpose of this study was to examine the entering computer literacy skills, based on self-reported information, of preservice teachers. In addition, the study examined the factors that influenced the students entering skills. Specifically, the objectives of this study were as follows: </p><p>1. identify the level of experience of preservice teachers in word processing, database, and spreadsheet applications, and </p><p>2. determine the effect that such factors as gender, academic classification, comfort with computers, academic year, and prior PC experience have on preservice teachers self-reported skills in word processing, database, and spreadsheet applications. </p><p>Methodology </p><p>The university where the study was conducted is a small public institution serving a regional population. There are approximately 6,000 students enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs. In 1991, the mean SAT score was 850, 7% of the students were from the top 10% of their high school class, 59% of the students were from the top half of their high school class, and 50% of the students graduate in 5 years (U.S. News and World Report, 1992). The College of Education is the second largest in the university in terms of student enrollment (the largest college is science and technology), with approximately 1,900 students. </p><p>Data Collection and Analvsis </p><p>Data for the study were collected from students enrolled in the introductory educational computing course over four academic years: 1991-92, 1992-93, 1993-94, and 1994-95. At the beginning of each semester, students were administered a questionnaire requiring them to evaluate themselves, using a Likert-type scale, in the computer literacy areas of word processing, database, and spreadsheet software. The scale ranged from 1 = no experience, to 3 = basic familiarity, to 5 = expert. </p><p>46 </p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Tri</p><p>nity</p><p> Int</p><p>erna</p><p>tiona</p><p>l Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity] </p><p>at 2</p><p>3:49</p><p> 05 </p><p>Oct</p><p>ober</p><p> 201</p><p>4 </p></li><li><p>There are five other variables for which data were collected. The analysis focused on whether or not the self-reported skills in word processing, database, and spreadsheet software varied across gender, academic classification, comfort with computers, academic year, and other PC experience. Academic classification refers to the academic level, freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, or post-baccalaureate, at which students were at the time of enrollment in the course. Comfort with computers relates to students' indication of being computer-phobic. Academic year refers to one of the four periods of time over which the data were collected: 1991-92, 1992-93, 1993-94, and 1994-95. Other PC experience refers to students' indication of whether they had experience with any other personal computers before enrolling in the course. </p><p>i experience familiarity oxport </p><p>Level of Experlenco L </p><p>Results </p><p>Responses from a total of 772 respondents over four academic years were included for analysis in this study. The gender composition was 28% male and 72% female. The sample consisted primarily of juniors (46%), followed by sophomores (25%) and seniors (22 %). Approximately 4 % were freshmen and 3 % were post-baccalaureate students. Almost one-third of the students indicated that they were computer-phobic; females were more likely than males to indicate that they were not comfortable with computers (chi-square value = 6.9, p = .008). Sixty-one percent of the students reported experience with another personal computer; those who had experience with another PC were more likely to report that they were comfortable with computers (chi-square value = 15.7, p = .OOO). </p><p>Word Processing; </p><p>In general, students rate themselves as more familiar with word processing than other types of software. In Figure 1 it may be seen that 53% have less than basic familiarity and another 32% have only basic familiarity with word processing software. The mean rating was 2.34. </p><p>Figure 1 Experience with Word Processing Software </p><p>I Word procerrlng </p><p>I : 'O f 31.6 K 31.5 K </p><p>47 </p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Tri</p><p>nity</p><p> Int</p><p>erna</p><p>tiona</p><p>l Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity] </p><p>at 2</p><p>3:49</p><p> 05 </p><p>Oct</p><p>ober</p><p> 201</p><p>4 </p></li><li><p>Results of the chi-square analysis of gender, academic classification, comfort with computers, academic year, and other PC experience are depicted in Table 1. There were no significant differences across gender and academic classification in students' self-reported word processing skills. However, the results do indicate that there were significant differences across comfort with computers, academic year, a i d other PC experience. </p><p>I </p><p>Chi-Square Value - Variable </p><p>gender 7.3 </p><p>academic classification 22.7" </p><p>comfort with computers 58.8 </p><p>academic year 56.4 </p><p>other PC experience 206.6 </p><p>Table 1 Chi-square Values of Specific Factors for </p><p>Word Processiiig Experience </p><p>Significance Level </p><p>.12 </p><p>.12 </p><p>. 000 </p><p>. 000 </p><p>. 000 I I J </p><p>* more than 20% of the cells had an expected frequency of less than 5 </p><p>The percentage of students who rated themselves as having basic experience with word processing software steadily increased over the four academic years, while the percentage who rated themselves with no experience decreased. This may indicate that students who were more recently enrolled have had more opportunities to gain experience in word processing. Students who did not consider themselves computer-phobic rated themselves higher in word processing at all levels of experience than students who considered themselves computer-phobic. Similarly, students who reported experience with other personal computers rated themselves higher than students who had no prior experience with personal computers. </p><p>Database </p><p>In contrast to the relatively higher reported level of competency with word processing software, Figure 2 shows that few students are familiar with database software. Approximately 8 1 % of the students indicated less than basic familiarity and approximately 15 % indicated at least basic familiarity with database software. The mean rating was 1.64. Results of the chi-square analysis of gender, academic classification, comfort with computers, academic year, and other PC experience are depicted in Table 2. There were significant differences in experience with database software across all of the variables tested. </p><p>A smaller percentage of males than females rated themselves at the levels of less than basic familiarity; a higher percentage of males than females rated themselves higher from basic familiarity to expert. A smaller percentage of freshmen rated themselves at the basic familiarity level than all other academic classifications, and a higher percentage of post- baccalaureate students rated themselves at the level of basic familiarity and above. Students who considered themselves to be computer-phobic report less experience with database </p><p>48 </p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Tri</p><p>nity</p><p> Int</p><p>erna</p><p>tiona</p><p>l Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity] </p><p>at 2</p><p>3:49</p><p> 05 </p><p>Oct</p><p>ober</p><p> 201</p><p>4 </p></li><li><p>Figure 2 Experience with Database Software </p><p>7 0 </p><p>O f 6 0 </p><p>B 5 0 ' 4 0 d 30 </p><p>2 0 </p><p>: l o B o </p><p>IN 2 3 basic 4 5 experience familiarity expert </p><p>I I Level of Experience </p><p>Variable </p><p>gender </p><p>academic classification </p><p>comfort with computers </p><p>software than students who are comfortable with computers. The percentage of students who rated themselves with less than basic familiarity decreased steadily over the four academic years. Students with other PC experience rated themselves higher than students without other PC experience. </p><p>Chi-square Value Significance Level </p><p>9.6 .04 </p><p>30.8* .01 </p><p>51.3 .ooo </p><p>Table 2 Chi-square Values of Specific Factors for Database Experience </p><p>I academic year I 40.3* I .ooo I other PC experience I 84.6 I . 000 </p><p>* more than 20% of the cells had an expected frequency of less than 5 </p><p>SDreadsheet </p><p>Students report even less experience with spreadsheet software than either word processing and database software. As Figure 3 shows, approximately 84% of the students indicated less than basic familiarity and approximately 12 % indicated at least basic familiarity with spreadsheet software. The mean rating was 1.54. </p><p>Results of the Chi-square analysis of gender, academic classification, comfort with computers, academic year, and other pc experience are depicted in Table 3. As was the case with database software, there were significant differences acr...</p></li></ul>

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