Effects of group composition and gender on college students' computer knowledge and attitude
Von Holzen, Roger L
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In a world that is becoming increasingly computerized, the phrase "computer literate" is being added to the list of requirements an individual must meet in order to be considered socially and economically functional in our society. The forces at play in the development of a computer literate person are therefore important areas for investigation. In the review of literature for this study, factors such as attitude toward computers, computer aptitude, and usage of computers, were found to play important roles in the development of a person's level of computer literacy. But an additional factor seemed to play the most critical role--the amount of computer experience the person had encountered. What seemed to determine the amount of opportunity that a person had to gain this necessary computer experience was his or her gender and the composition of the learning group of which he or she was a member. It was hypothesized that an individual's gender, the gender composition of his or her learning group, and the size of the learning group would constitute factors strongly influencing the individual's computer knowledge and attitude toward computers. The hypotheses for this study were tested at a regional state university in the Midwest. Five hundred sixty-four subjects participated in this study within 165 cooperative learning groups. The learning groups varied in gender composition and size (dyad or triad). A pretest/posttest design was utilized. Results from the knowledge and attitude assessments were analyzed by the use of analyses of covariance, with the pretest data as the covariates. Results from the study suggest that for college students, the size of the cooperative learning group can have a significant impact on the students' attitude toward computers. The gender of an individual and the gender composition of his or her cooperative learning group are not significant factors influencing the attitude toward computers he or she acquires in a computer literacy course. It was also found, through this study, that the size of a college student's cooperative learning group, his or her gender, and the gender composition of his or her cooperative learning group are not are not significant factors influencing the knowledge he or she acquires in a computer literacy course.