Does computer confidence relate to levels of achievement in ICT-enriched learning models?
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Employer expectations have changed: university students are expected to graduate with computer competencies appropriate for their field. Educators are also harnessing technology as a medium for learning in the belief that information and communication technologies (ICT’s) can enliven and motivate learning across a wide range of disciplines. Alongside developing students’ computer skills and introducing them to the use of professional software, educators are also harnessing professional and scientific packages for learning in some disciplines. As the educational use of information and communication technologies increases dramatically, questions arise about the effects on learners. While the use of computers for delivery, support, and communication, is generally easy and unthreatening, higher-level use may pose a barrier to learning for those who lack confidence or experience. Computer confidence may mediate in how well students perform in learning environments that require interaction with computers. This paper examines the role played by computer confidence (or computer self-efficacy) in a technology-enriched science and engineering mathematics course in an Australian university. Findings revealed that careful and appropriate use of professional software did indeed enliven learning for the majority of students. However, computer confidence occupied a very different dimension to mathematics confidence: and was not a predictor of achievement in the mathematics tasks, not even those requiring use of technology. Moreover, despite careful and nurturing support for use of the software, students with low computer confidence levels felt threatened and disadvantaged by computer laboratory tasks. The educational implications of these findings are discussed with regard to teaching and assessment, in particular. The TCAT scales used to measure technology attitudes, computer confidence/self-efficacy and mathematics confidence are included in an Appendix. Well-established, reliable, internally consistent, they may be useful to other researchers. The development of the computer confidence scale is outlined, and guidelines are offered for the design of other discipline-specific confidence/self-efficacy scales appropriate for use alongside the computer confidence scale.
KeywordsComputer attitudes Scales Learning Achievement
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