Gender differences in computer attitudes among middle-school-age students



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This study investigated gender differences in computer attitudes and the relationships between these attitudes and grade level, mathematics achievement, computer courses, computer experience, and prior programming and word processing experience. The study involved 115 seventh- and eighth-grade students enrolled in computer literacy courses in a suburban school district. Three different attitudes toward computers were studied: 1) in general, 2) as a problem-solving tool, and 3) as a writing tool. Multiple regression techniques were used to analyze the attitude models. Analysis of the data indicated no significant effects of gender upon any of the attitudes. Of all the factors investigated, prior computer experience had the most effect upon the attitudes, although its greatest impact was on the general attitude. Grade level and number of computer courses also influenced general attitude. The problem-solving and writing attitudes were found to be affected primarily by experience with the respective application. It appears that while general computer experiences and formal classes influence the formation of positive attitudes towards computers in general, formation of positive attitudes toward specific uses of computers depends upon interactive experiences with the respective application. Although no significant direct effects due to gender were found, analysis revealed that gender was interacting with other factors. It was found that gender in combination with number of computer courses impacted the attitudes. Taken as a whole, these interactions do represent a pattern of indirect effects upon computer attitudes. This study was, by its nature, exploratory. The findings should be of interest to those educators engaged in equitable computer education at all levels. The findings and recommendations should also be of interest to those seeking to identify and enhance those factors which could significantly influence the formation of positive attitudes toward computers, both in general and as tools for specific applications.



Computer-assisted instruction, Sex differences in education