Student and Teacher Perceptions of

Computer Literacy Education:

What are the outcomes?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Action Research Project

Masters of Arts in Teacher Leadership

Roosevelt University

December 2004

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tony Miller

Business Teacher

William Fremd High School

Palatine, Illinois

 

An Action Research Project

 

Student and Teacher Perceptions of Computer Literacy Education: 

What are the outcomes?

 

I.        Abstract

By surveying non-computer literate students (one who has not taken an introductory computer course) and computer literate students (one who has taken a computer course) in their perceptions of skill level, I found that the students who took a computer literacy class felt more confident in their skill level than those that did not.  The computer literate students ranked their perceptual skill level in many areas of technology (keyboarding, word processing, use of spreadsheets, slide shows, web pages, and databases) higher than those with no computer literacy experience.  Ironically, even those who felt they had the necessary skill level to learn on their own ranked themselves, on average, lower in skill level than a computer literate student. 

The students taking the computer literacy class also indicated perceptual areas of growth in regards to computer skills from the beginning of the semester to the end of the school year.   A majority of students indicated the inclusion of technology in their content courses, such as mathematics, science, English, and social studies. 

 

Teachers were also surveyed on their uses of technology in their classrooms and students skill level with using particular programs, applications, or hardware.  The majority of teachers indicated that students’ computer literacy skill levels are not where they should be regardless of whether they took a computer course or not.

II.      Background Information and Evolution of the Question

I am certified by the state of Illinois to teach keyboarding, information processing, computer applications, integrated applications, desktop publishing, and web page design from kindergarten thru 12th grade.  I have taught computer-based classes for seven years ranging from all grade and skill levels.  I have also taught over nine different business content classes, such as business law, business management, and accounting.

I have mainly spent my time primarily teaching 9th thru 12th graders in computer literacy and applications three classes a day over the past six years.  I have fully integrated technology into my accounting class using Excel and Automated Accounting and I incorporate technology four out of five days in my Business Management class.  My computer literacy and applications classes range in student ability level from:  low, average, high, and gifted.  I have also taught many non-computer course classes with students who have limited computer-based skills.

A brief synopsis of the geographic and demographics of District 211 is as follows.  Regarding any curriculum development, all five high schools (William Fremd, Schaumburg, Palatine, James B. Conant, and Hoffman Estates) must come to a consensus.  There are many issues currently on the table in our district that can have adverse effects on curriculum development outside the core content classes of math, science, English, and social studies.  The issues of NCLB (No Child Left Behind), PSAE (Prairie State Achievement Exam),  and the mathematics initiatives  for our district can become a challenge for new curriculum that is unrelated to the high-stakes testing of content area knowledge.  Another challenge in developing any curriculum is satisfying the needs of the one out of five high schools that is in block scheduling.

Our District, the largest high school district in the state has made a significant investment in technology.  There are five high schools in the district with a total enrollment of just over 12,800 students (Twp. High School Dist. 211, 2002, 16).  If we use my high school as an example, each classroom is equipped with a computer and a data projector.  All the science labs have multiple computers; there are seven different computer labs, and five rolling labs of laptops.  There are a total of almost 900 computers in my high school alone.  Each computer is connected to the district network and thus the internet.  We have two full-time network technicians, a repair technician, and two computer specialists all under the direction of the Director of Technology.  Further information about our district’s commitment to technology can be seen in the district wide technology budget for the last four years.  This budget includes not just acquiring the technology hardware and software, but also the training of staff, personnel to manage the technology, the network infrastructure, and the technology at the district offices.

 

For the fiscal year 2001-2002 the district budgeted $4,761,400.  The following year they budgeted an additional $3,680,000.  For the year that spanned the 2003-2004 school year; $5,019,500.  For next year, 2004-2005, the budgeted figure in $5,271,000.  When we add these budgeted figures together, the district budgeted to spend $18,731,900 (District 211 Budget, 2004).  There are a total of 5 high schools in District 211, so if we take the figure ($18,731,900) and divide it by 5, my high school’s portion of the technology pie over the last 4 years was just over $3.7 million dollars or almost $1,000,000 per year.

 

Most would find this is a significant investment, and then one would hope that my district’s students would be some of the most literate in the area.  This, then is the purpose of my research.

Also, computer based education is widely different among the two elementary feeder districts.  These students who move onto their secondary level of education have varying technology skill levels due to differences in educational philosophy of the two districts.  The outcome of this situation is that the high schools have different clientele of student body regarding technology, but must offer the same curriculum in each school.  This poses the dilemma of “what might be good for one high school might not be feasible for another in the district.”

Currently, the computer literacy course is a one-semester elective course.  Most students, who are freshmen and sophomores, are interested in furthering their experiences and will take this prerequisite class in order to take our upper level computer courses.  Ninety-percent of our computer literacy students will continue onto the spring semester to take computer applications.  Others may take the class as upper-classmen to fulfill a parent’s wish or a counselor’s urging that the course will be useful for college.  Regardless of the student’s desire, those taking computer literacy will experience a hands-on learning environment incorporating the necessary computer skills to be successful in business, education, or in their personal lives.  Indicated below are the course objectives for our computer literacy and computer applications class.

 

B162 Computer Literacy Course Objectives

 

1.      Use and demonstrate correct technique when keyboarding for speed and accuracy at a minimum of 25 wpm for three minutes with six or fewer errors

 

2.      Using the table feature, format, edit, and produce tables

 

3.      Format, edit, and produce “simple” web pages

 

4.      Format, edit, and produce spreadsheets 

 

5.      Format, edit, and produce reports in MLA-style

 

6.      Use the personal computer as a tool

 

B163 Computer Applications Course Objectives

 

1.      Assess keyboarding speed and accuracy using a minimum goal of 30 words per minute for three minutes with three or fewer errors

2.      Using automated features, format, edit, and produce various types of business documents (i.e.-memos, form letters, email) using MS Office software

3.      Use presentation software to create presentations

4.      Format and create documents using desktop publishing options

5.      Using database software design a database, input data, query information, and generate reports

6.      Demonstrate the ability to integrate the various software applications in MSOffice

 

I, along with several other business teachers in my department and district, have experienced the benefits of taking a computer-literacy class early on in my/our high school education.  We feel that the skills learned and applied can help in future studies, but presently during student’s high school education.  My research will show more teachers in our district are integrating technology in the curriculum and requiring their students to be knowledgeable in the basics of office application work.  I have wondered if our students truly believe the benefits of their time in our computer classes and if they feel it has better prepared them for their core content classes in high school.  We also wondered if our students perceive to be more knowledgeable in their computer skills after taking our class.  Students today are growing up with computers and are more interactive with technology than ever before.  We have spent every summer the past five years trying to adjust the curriculum to fit the needs of our students.  From this came the question: 

 

What are student and teacher perceptions of computer literacy education?  What are student and teacher perceptions of students’ computer literacy skill level?  What technology are teachers using in their classes?  Do we have the appropriate curriculum and objectives for our student population?  Is there a need for a required computer literacy class?  What should the outcomes be?  How will these be addressed in curriculum development of a required computer literacy class?

 

         III.      Expectations and Rationale

I expect to find that student perception of computer skill level and teacher use of technology can be beneficial if a student takes a computer literacy class.  I hope to find some useful information that will aid in re-structuring a computer literacy curriculum for all students that will benefit them in their core high school classes as well as prepare them for the future.

 

        IV.      Review of Literature

 

The research conducted supports my rationale for a required computer literacy course.  The research will define what it means to be computer literate.  The research will also explain a framework for a comprehensive approach to maximize computer literacy in student learning. 

According to webopedia.com, computer literacy is defined, as the level of expertise and familiarity someone has with computers. Computer literacy generally refers to the ability to use applications rather than programs. Individuals who are very computer literate are sometimes called power users.

            According to Salpeter’s article, “21st Century Skills:  Will Our Students Be Prepared?” (2003), she summarizes in a report from a new public-private coalition known as the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (www.21stcenturyskills.org), which articulates a vision of how schools can best prepare students to succeed in the first decades of the 21st century.  In her summary, central to the report’s recommendations is a call for schools to focus on six key elements of 21st century learning.   One of those six elements was 21st Century Tools:  Recognizing that “technology is, and will continue to be, a driving force in workplaces, communities, and personal lives in the 21st Century,” learning for the 21st Century emphasizes the importance of incorporating information and communication technologies into education from the elementary grades up. 

            According to the 1991 SCANS Report (Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills), research showed that preparing students for 21st Century skills requires a variety of skills—including higher-order thinking, personal abilities, and technology literacy—all essential for preparing students for a knowledge-based economy. (Salpeter, 1)

            Kastman-Breuch concurs with these positions in her article, “Thinking Critically about Technological Literacy Development a Framework to Guide Computer Pedagogy in Technical Communication,” which indicates that “technology literacy” should have a framework that consists of:  (1) performance skills, (2) contextual skills, and (3) linguistic skills.

Kastman-Breuch’s study of “technological literacy” provides an example of a comprehensive framework for defining “technological literacy as follows:

 

1.      Performance:  Evaluating Web Resources by finding sources using Internet, think critically about the source credibility, access web and how to locate browser, conduct keyword searches, and select appropriate sources

 

2.      Contextual Factors:  Consider the source by identifying the author, source, professional organization, and accuracy of message

 

3.      Linguistic Activities:  Conducting research by reading and navigating hypertext while scanning web design elements

 

Lee-Ann Kastman-Breuch states, “This framework is a starting point for future research in applying this framework to pedagogical settings and report results from such application.  Also, future research might also begin to develop stronger theoretical stances with regard to the collective issues I have identified.” (Kastman-Breuch, 267-288)

            William Dugger in his article, “Standards for Technological Literacy,” states that a person who is technologically literate “understands, in increasingly sophisticated ways that evolve over time, what technology is, how it is created, and how it shapes and is shaped by society.” (Dugger, 513-17)

In “Beyond Imagination:  The Internet and Global Digital Literacy,” Lester Faigley articulates collective learning objectives for technology in the following:

 

What do we want students to learn?  I believe we have good answers to this question.  We want students to recognize and value the breadth of information available and to evaluate, analyze, and synthesize that information.  We want students to construct new meaning and knowledge with technology.  We want students to be able to communicate in a variety of media for different audiences and purposes.  And we want students to become responsible citizens and community members.  We want them to understand the ethical, cultural, environmental, and societal implications of technology and telecommunications, and develop a sense of stewardship and responsibility regarding the use of technology.

 

Based on the results of a recent research/demonstration project by McRel’s Rural Institute Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (Fanning, 1994), “…the lack of interest in integrating technology shown by core, academic teachers was surprising…” 

Dede (1990) found several misconceptions held among many educators in regards to computer literacy.  These misconceptions are:

1.      Technology is simply a way to do things faster or more efficiently (e.g., word processors are used like faster typewriters instead of typesetting, editing and publishing media).

2.      Contemporary trends in technical innovations are about to run their course.

3.      Being literate in a new technology is simply knowing how to operate it (technology is just a tool).

4.      Students and teachers do not need equipment as powerful as that used by business and industry (somehow schools do not have to reflect the same level of sophistication as the culture their students live and participate in).

5.      The preparation of students and teachers for the use of new technology can be delayed until the technology is actually available or perceived to be needed (knowing the evolution of technical knowledge and skills is not viewed as being very important).

6.      Technology can be implemented in incremental ways and still achieve a desirable level of performance (the discord between what happens inside the school and what is expected outside the school still is not perceived as relevant).

Dover’s article from www.about.com, Adult/Continuing Learning, “Essential Computer Skills—Getting Started” suggests the one’s life with computers will be much easier if you get a solid foundation in the basics first. ([Online]  Available:  www.adulted.about.com)  The basics include being able to:

 

·        Describe computer hardware, software and functions:  The ability to talk about computers is necessary whether you are buying one or asking for help solving computer problems.

 

·        Perform basic computer operations:  These include using the keyboard and mouse; turning the computer off and on; opening software applications; opening, minimizing and closing windows; and managing files and folders.

 

Once you are able to discuss computers and perform basic operations, you are ready to learn how to:

 

·        Conduct library and Internet research:  At a minimum, you should be able to search the holdings of your school's library, using on-site computers. A complementary skill is the ability to effectively search the Internet using a browser such as Internet Explorer or Netscape.

 

·        Create and edit reports and presentations:  For most assignments, knowing how to use a word-processor such as MSWord or WordPerfect is sufficient. For business courses such as Accounting, which require the display and management of financial data, you may want to use a spreadsheet program such as MSExcel. If you make presentations regularly, presentation software such as PowerPoint is useful for creating and presenting slides.

 

"Nice to know" functions that are quickly becoming "need to know" items are the ability to:

 

·        Use your computer to communicate with others:  The communication tools of E-mail, discussion forums and chat rooms allow you to network, exchange information and even submit assignments. You need Internet access to use all of these applications.

 

 

           V.      Methodology

 

The very first activity I did for this action research project was develop an online survey questionnaire to collect data on students’ perceptions of computer literacy education.  After teaching the curriculum for several years and observing the lack of skill level in non-computer literate students (those who have not taken a computer course) in my business content classes, I felt that this data could provide positive outcomes to indicate the benefits of taking such a course and the positive perceptions students feel because they do take the course. 

The online computer literacy survey questionnaire was answered by 225 students, of those surveyed, 69.8% of those had taken the computer literacy program and 30.2% of those surveyed had never taken the computer literacy program.  Of the 225 students surveyed, 35% were freshmen, 15% were sophomores, 20% were juniors, and 29% were seniors.  The survey results where sent directly to an Access database file.  Using the Access database table results, I created queries to extract specific data involving the following questions.

1.      How much knowledge or skill level (perceptual) did you have in the following computer skills or applications going into the computer class?

 

2.      How much knowledge or skill level (perceptual) have you gained in the following computer skills or applications after taking the computer class?

 

Scale:  0=25%, 26-50%, 51-79%, 80%+

 

1.       Touch Keying

2.       Word (Word Processing)

3.       Excel

4.       PowerPoint

5.       FrontPage (Web Authoring)

6.       Publisher (Desktop Publishing)

7.       Database

8.       Internet Concepts

9.       File Maintenance

10.   Using Hardware

11.   Troubleshooting

 

 

3.      How useful have these computer skills or applications been for you as a student in your other core classes?

 

Scale:  Never Used, Rarely Used, Somewhat Useful, Very Useful, Extremely Useful

 

1.       Touch Keying

2.       Word (Word Processing)

3.       Excel

4.       PowerPoint

5.       FrontPage (Web Authoring)

6.       Publisher (Desktop Publishing)

7.       Database

8.       Internet Concepts

9.       File Maintenance

10.   Using Hardware

11.   Troubleshooting

 

 

4.      Will computers be useful in the future?

 

 

5.      What computer applications and other computer technology have you used for the classes listed below?

 

1.      Science

2.      Math

3.      English

4.      Social Studies

 

 

6.      Rank your technology skill level on a scale of one to ten (ten being the highest) using the following statements

 

10

I am exceptionally proficient at the computer.  I can touch type at an acceptable rate.  I can make elaborate PowerPoint presentations with animations, transitions, graphics, sound and video.  I know how to use a spreadsheet and can create graphs.  I can also build well designed and functional web pages.  I can find information easy on the web and know how to use the web as a resource.  I need very little instruction from the teacher on how to use technology and software.

5

I am proficient at the computer.  I can touch type at a reasonable rate.  I can make PowerPoint presentations and build web pages.  I am not familiar with Excel or the advanced features of Word.  I know how to surf the web but when I get bogged down when I have to do research.  I do need some instruction from the teacher on how to use software. 

1

I have very limited skill on the computer.  I dislike computers and have to use them more often than I want to.  I can perform simple tasks like writing a paper in Word or a creating a simple PowerPoint presentation.  I need a lot of instruction from the teacher on how to use technology or software.

0

I do not use technology enough to rate my skill level. 

 

After I extracted the data by running queries in Access, and I copied that data into Microsoft Excel to analyze and evaluate the data using mathematical formula to find percentages among the data results. 

The goal of the survey was to extract data that stood out among others, because a majority of students perceived their skill level differently.  With this data analysis in hand, I created charts (graphs) as well as spreadsheet of the results to illustrate the outcomes from the online computer literacy student survey on students’ perceptions of their technology skill level.  The outcomes would be used to find out what changes or revisions should be made regarding to computer literacy education in my district.

Next, a teacher survey was taken in the spring of 2004 and involved teachers providing their perceptions of student skill levels regarding technology (mainly computer literacy skills) and their use of technology in the classroom. 

The computer literacy survey questionnaire was answered by 88 teachers from our school in various curricula.  The survey results where sent directly to an Access database file.  Using the Access database table results, the data was then imported to Microsoft Excel for analysis and evaluation of the following questions.

 

1.      Because you use them in class, which of the following technologies do your students need to improve their use of?

 

2.      Because you use them in class, which of the following technologies do you think our students have the required skills?

 

3.      Which of the following technologies do you require your students to use in your classes?

 

1.       Word

2.       Excel

3.       PowerPoint

4.       Access

5.       FrontPage

6.       Publisher

7.       Internet Concepts

8.       Using Hardware

 

4.      On a scale of one to ten, rank the technology competencies of our students (10=High, 0=Low)

 

5.      Based upon your observations and experiences, do you feel the technology skill level of our students is where it should be?

 

Again, like the student computer literacy survey, I used Microsoft Excel to analyze and evaluate the data that I was provided by my colleague using mathematical formulae.

The goal of the survey was to extract data that was unusual, because a majority of teachers perceived student skill level differently.  With this data analysis in hand, I created charts (graphs) as well as spreadsheet to illustrate the outcomes from the technology literacy teacher survey based on their perception of student technology skill level.  The outcomes would be used to guide us to change or revise computer literacy education in our district.

VI.      Assessment, Data Results, and Findings

 

The student survey data includes perceptions of 225 students, ranging from 9th – 12th grade (69.8% of those who responded had taken the computer literacy course and 30.2% of those had never taken the computer literacy course). 

The first student survey question asked was how much knowledge or skill level (perceptual) did you have in the following computer skills or applications going into the computer class?  The results were as follows:

 

 

Students' Perception of Prior Knowledge Skill Level

 

 

Touch Keying

Word

Excel

Power Point

Front Page

Publisher

Database

Internet Concepts

File Mainten-ance

Using Hardware

Trouble-shooting

Results

0-25

28.7%

4.5%

30.6%

7.6%

55.4%

39.4%

67.5%

3.8%

22.8%

22.8%

37.6%

26-50

26.1%

22.9%

31.2%

29.9%

17.8%

27.7%

15.3%

13.3%

34.2%

36.7%

25.5%

51-79

21.7%

36.3%

23.6%

26.8%

14.0%

21.9%

10.8%

31.6%

19.0%

18.4%

23.6%

80+

23.6%

36.3%

14.6%

35.7%

12.7%

11.0%

6.4%

51.3%

24.1%

22.2%

13.4%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Under 50%

54.8%

27.4%

61.8%

37.6%

73.2%

67.1%

82.8%

17.1%

57.0%

59.5%

63.1%

Under 79%

76.4%

63.7%

85.4%

64.3%

87.3%

89.0%

93.6%

48.7%

75.9%

77.8%

86.6%

Over 80%

23.6%

36.3%

14.6%

35.7%

12.7%

11.0%

6.4%

51.3%

24.1%

22.2%

13.4%

Table 1.1

 

Figure 1.1

 

 

From the data indicated on Table 1.1 and illustrated on Figure 1.1, those students going into the computer literacy course were significantly deficient in many skills.  The perception from a majority of students was that their computer skill level was under 50% in the areas of touch keying (keyboarding), Excel, FrontPage, databases, file maintenance, using hardware and troubleshooting through computer problems.  It was not shocking to notice that the majority of students perceived themselves as competent in Internet concepts and Word, since these two areas are frequently used in their everyday lives, at home and school, much early on in their childhood.  However, a majority of students perceived their skill level in Word below 79%, which means that many are comfortable with using Word, but the perception identifies areas of improvement in order to maximize their full potential.  There was a significant gap between those under 79% and those over 80% in Internet concepts skill level which can be attributed to cultural and socioeconomic differences among those surveyed.  Many students who do not have a computer at home could attribute this finding to their deficiency in Internet concepts, where as many students who use the Internet for downloading music, playing games, instant messaging, email, and the like could be attributed to their confidence in their skill level of Internet concepts.

 

The second student survey question asked was how much knowledge or skill level (perceptual) did you have in the following computer skills or applications after taking the computer class?  The results were:

 

Students' Perception of Improvement in Skill Level after taking Computer Literacy & Computer Applications

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Touch Keying

Word

Excel

Power Point

Front Page

Publisher

Database

Internet Concepts

File Maintenance

Using Hardware

Trouble-shooting

Results

0-25

4.5%

4.5%

1.9%

3.2%

7.1%

7.1%

7.7%

7.1%

6.5%

9.7%

20.0%

26-50

6.5%

4.5%

6.5%

5.2%

9.7%

12.3%

14.2%

5.8%

12.3%

16.8%

14.2%

51-79

36.1%

18.1%

38.7%

27.1%

37.4%

34.8%

36.8%

28.4%

38.1%

38.7%

35.5%

80+

52.9%

72.9%

52.9%

64.5%

45.8%

45.8%

41.3%

58.7%

43.2%

34.8%

30.3%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

50% or less

11.0%

9.0%

8.4%

8.4%

16.8%

19.4%

21.9%

12.9%

18.7%

26.5%

34.2%

51% or more

89.0%

91.0%

91.6%

91.6%

83.2%

80.6%

78.1%

87.1%

81.3%

73.5%

65.8%

Table 1.2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 1.2

 

From the data indicated on Table 1.2 and illustrated on Figure 1.2, those students taking the computer literacy program significantly improved perceptually in all areas listed above.  A majority of students, 80% on average, perceived that their skill level increased over 50% after taking the computer literacy program.  Ironically, the growth was so large, that it indicated that even those students who perceived to be over 80% in skill level going into the computer literacy program learned a great deal more than 0-20%, in fact they perceive to learn enough that they are over 100% in skill level.  Thus, their initial perception of their prior skill level is could be attributed to their inexperience with the vast capabilities of computers and their lack of knowledge as to what these capabilities can do for them in their high school education and beyond.

 

 

The third student survey question asked how useful have these computer skills or applications been for you as a student in your other core classes?  The results were:

 

 

 

Students' Perception of the Usefulness of Technology in Core Classes

 

 

Touch Keying

Word

Excel

Power Point

Front Page

Publisher

Database

Internet Concepts

File Maintenance

Using Hardware

Trouble-shooting

 

 

Extremely  Useful

41.7%

63.5%

23.7%

42.7%

16.1%

19.2%

12.3%

70.9%

30.1%

17.4%

17.4%

Very Useful

25.2%

26.0%

25.1%

31.2%

12.4%

16.9%

10.5%

20.9%

24.2%

27.4%

22.0%

Somewhat Useful

18.8%

8.2%

34.7%

21.1%

21.2%

23.3%

18.3%

5.0%

23.7%

25.6%

27.1%

Rarely Used

6.9%

2.3%

9.1%

2.3%

21.2%

19.2%

21.9%

3.2%

13.2%

13.2%

15.6%

Never Used

7.3%

0.0%

7.3%

2.8%

29.0%

21.5%

37.0%

0.0%

8.7%

16.4%

17.9%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Majority

Rating

67%

89%

51%

74%

71%

64%

77%

92%

54%

55%

61%

Table 1.3

 

Figure 1.3

 
 

From the data indicated on Table 1.3 and illustrated on Figure 1.3, students surveyed perceived that many technologies were useful to their overall learning in their core classes.  A majority of students surveyed perceived that touch keying (keyboarding), Word, PowerPoint, Internet concepts, and file maintenance were very or extremely useful to them in their core classes, such as math, science, English, and social studies.  Basically, the students felt that these were the main technologies being incorporated in their core classes. 

On the other hand, a majority of students surveyed perceived that Excel, FrontPage, databases, using hardware, and troubleshooting computer problems were less useful to them or never used in their core classes.  Interestingly, the students felt that these technologies were not being incorporated into or needed in their core classes and thus being computer literate in these areas was not a top priority for them.

 

 

The fourth student survey question asked the students will computers be useful in the future.  The results were:

 

Will Computers be useful in the future?

Yes

No

97%

3%

Table 1.4

 

This survey question above was asked to show that the vast majority of students surveyed perceive that they understand computers will be needed and will play an important role in their future.

 

The fifth student survey question asked what computer applications and other computer technology have you used for the classes listed below.  The results were:

 

 

 

Students' Perception of technology used in their core classes

 

 

Touch Keying

Word

Excel

Power Point

Front Page

Publisher

Database

Internet Concepts

Using Hardware

No Technology

 

 

Science

91.9%

38.9%

35.1%

30.3%

0.0%

2.7%

0.0%

21.6%

5.4%

5.4%

Math

28.1%

5.4%

18.9%

0.5%

0.0%

1.0%

2.7%

3.8%

3.0%

47.0%

English

98.9%

98.9%

2.7%

17.3%

1.1%

1.1%

0.0%

11.9%

2.7%

1.1%

Social Studies

79.5%

41.6%

2.7%

31.9%

0.0%

1.1%

0.0%

10.8%

1.1%

20.5%

Table 1.5

 

Figure 1.5

 

 

From the data indicated on Table 1.5 and illustrated on Figure 1.5, students surveyed were able to identify a discrepancy among the core courses at the high school level concerning integration of technology into their curriculum.  The data identified that those surveyed indicated that Science is the subject that incorporates more technology than any other.  Science like many of the other core subject require students to keyboard, use Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Internet concepts in learning and applying science content. 

English and Science came in second and third, respectively with incorporating technology into their curriculum.  They greatly require students to touch key (keyboard) for writing and developing linguistic skills, presenting information via a PowerPoint slide show, and using the Internet in researching specific subject content. 

Mathematics came in a distant fourth with incorporating technology into the classroom.  In fact, 47% of those surveyed indicated that Mathematics is not integrating technology into their subject content.  A small percentage of students identified that touch keying/keyboarding (28.1%) and using Excel (18.9%) for mathematical formulae and graphing were used in their math classes.

 

The sixth student survey question asked the students to rank their technology skill level on a scale of one to ten (ten being the highest).  The results were:

 

 

Students' Perception of their Skill Level

 

With Computer Class

W/out Computer Class

Year

Technology Skill Level

Technology Skill Level

Frosh

8.13

5.25

Soph

8.82

8.10

Junior

8.40

7.16

Senior

7.95

7.44

Table 1.6

 

Figure 1.6

 

From the data indicated in Table 1.6 and illustrated in Figure 1.6 the difference in students’ perceptions of their own skill level is apparent.  At each grade level, those students who took the computer literacy program rated themselves higher (2.88 higher as freshman) than those students who never took a computer literacy class. 

In fact, the freshman students who never took the computer literacy program rated themselves on average a 52.5% (an ‘F’ letter grade), where as the freshman students who did take the computer literacy program rated themselves on average an 81.3% (a ‘B’ letter grade). 

Juniors and seniors rated themselves on average a 73% (a ‘C’ letter grade) for those who never took the program and those who did rated themselves an 81.75% (a ‘B-’ letter grade). 

The sophomore students surveyed rated themselves on average a 81% (a ‘B-’ letter grade) who never took the program, where was the sophomores who did take the program rated themselves on average an 88.2% (a ‘B+’ letter grade).  For some reason, sophomores perceived to have more confidence in their skill level than any other class.  This could be due to the fact that many core classes incorporate technology in the classroom at that level and the confidence in using these skills were present in their mind when taking the computer literacy survey.

Regardless of any grade level, the confidence level of the students who took the computer literacy course was greater than those students who did not take the course.  In addition, the students who experience more technology tend to be more comfortable with using technology overall than those who tend to use technology less often.

 

The teacher survey data, conducted at my school, included 88 teachers in various subject areas, both core and elective areas (percentages were not gathered).

 

The first teacher survey question asked teachers was:  Since you use them in class, which of the following technologies do your students need to improve their use of?  The results were as follows:

 

Word

22.0%

Excel

36.0%

PowerPoint

42.0%

Access

7.0%

FrontPage

17.0%

Desktop Publishing

16.0%

Internet Concepts

21.0%

Using Hardware

16.0%

Table 2.1

 

Many teachers perceived student skill level to be incompetent in the areas of Excel, PowerPoint, and Internet concepts.  Some teachers felt that FrontPage, desktop publishing (Publisher), and using hardware were also areas of concern.  The majority of teachers felt that students were well prepared in Word, but almost 25% of teachers felt that students needed improvement in that area as well.

 

 

 

 

The second teacher survey question asked teachers was:  Since you use them in class, which of the following technologies do you think our students have the required skills?  The results were as follows:

 

Word

77.0%

Excel

17.0%

PowerPoint

50.0%

Access

0.0%

FrontPage

5.0%

Desktop Publishing

0.0%

Internet Concepts

24.0%

Using Hardware

11.5%

Table 2.2

 

 

As mentioned before, a majority of teachers feel that students’ skill level of word processing is above average.  A significant number of teachers perceive that students know quite a lot about how to use PowerPoint.  Many teachers feel students’ skill level in the areas of Excel (spreadsheets), Access (databases), FrontPage (web design), Publisher (desktop publishing, Internet concepts, and using hardware are not where they should be.  Thus, many teachers are using class time to teach these required skills that most students are not getting because there is no required computer literacy course.

 

The third teacher survey question asked:  Which of the following technologies do you require your students to use during your classroom.  The results were as follows:

 

Word

77.0%

Excel

27.0%

PowerPoint

61.0%

Access

1.0%

FrontPage

7.0%

Desktop Publishing

7.0%

Internet Concepts

58.5%

Using Hardware

13.5%

Table 2.3

 

A majority of teachers surveyed integrate the technologies of Word, PowerPoint, and Internet concepts in a variety of ways according to their subject content.  Many teachers surveyed (mainly science teachers) integrate Excel into their curriculum and require students to be technologically literate in these areas. 

 

The fourth teacher survey question asked on a scale of one to ten, rank the technology competencies of our students (10=High, 0=Low).  The results were:

 

High

10.0

Low

0.0

Average

5.3

Table 2.4

 

The next step was to get the teachers perceptions of the technology proficiency of the students.  When teachers were asked to rank the technology competency of our students on a scale of 1-10, their average results were a 5.5.  A rank of a 5 was described on the survey as: 

“Most students are proficient.  Most can touch type.  They can make PowerPoint presentations and build web pages.  They are not familiar with Excel or the advanced features of Word.  They know how to surf the web but when they get bogged down when they have to do research.  I do have to spend some instructional time teaching the students how to use software.”  

 

Overall, the 88 teachers surveyed, on average, perceive students’ computer literacy at a 5.3 out of a 10 rated scale.

 

The fifth teacher survey question asked teachers:  Based upon your observations and experiences do you feel the technology skill level of our students is where it should be?  The results were as follows:

 

Yes

23%

No

77%

Table 2.5

 

Again, 77% of the 88 teachers surveyed perceived that students’ technology skill level is not where it should be.  Many of the comments listed below from teachers will support this data, where a majority feels students know enough to get by, but are not utilizing technology to its fullest.  Many teachers take time correcting student problems with technology or teaching them skills that take up time that should be spent teaching their core content.

 

 

 

Text Box: Figure 2.6

 

 

 

The numbers compared are in Figure 2.6.  The blue represents teachers’ perceptions of which software program a student uses in their classes.  The maroon represents teachers’ perceptions regarding skills needed to improve.  The yellow represents the teachers’ perceptions regarding the students required skills. 

We can see that Word has the highest perceived competency.  PowerPoint requires the most improvement and is the third most used.  Excel requires the next most improved are to consider.  Internet Explorer and search engines follow in 2nd and 4th place most used software. 

 

The sixth and final question was an open-ended question asking the teachers to make any suggestions to improve students’ computer literacy levels or to list any technologies they felt the students needed to be computer literate.  When teachers were asked for the students greatest needs in terms of technology, some consistent themes emerged; teachers wanted students to be more proficient in PowerPoint and Internet Research along with a better mastery of Microsoft Office Suite.  The following are samples of teachers’ responses:

Ü       Even though our students have been brought up on the computer, most do not have the instructional refinements.

Ü       They have learned how to do things on the computer by experimenting on their own. 

Ü       Some think that if they know how to play games, they are pro.

Ü       How to develop a proper PowerPoint presentation. 

Ü       How to navigate the web using search engines and subject directories, without using Google or Yahoo.

Ü       How to create web pages. 

Ü       How to touch key effectively. 

Ü       How to use advanced features in Word.

Ü       Advanced power point presentations and advanced internet research.

Ü       Students need to fully learn programs that they use partially. 

Ü       In word, all students can type a paper, but how many know how to do a page set up.

 

VII.      Survey Analysis

 

Computers are continuing to be more and more part of the world today, in homes, in schools, and in business.  They have been a mainstream in the business field for years.  Today we are buying them for our homes at an unbelievable rate.  According to the 2002 US Census office survey, 54 million American households have a computer (US Census (April 17, 2004).  [Online]  Available: www.census.gov)

That figure had more than doubled in the last 10 years, up from 22.8% in 1992.  There is no reason to believe that that figure would not continue to rise as computers become cheaper.  Another interesting fact is that 41.5% of US households in 2002 had an Internet connection.  The rate of Internet access has grown at an unbelievable rate.  In 1997, only 18% of American households had an Internet activity. That means that connectivity grew at a rate of 20% per year.  As high-speed access begins to decline in price, we can expect that number to continue to climb (US Census, 2004).

So we can see from these figures, in the United States we are buying computers and getting connected to the Internet in our homes. We are using computers in our daily lives. 

From the data collected so far from students, one can see that their perception of being computer literate going into a class is misconceived based on the fact that 80% of those surveyed felt they improved over 50% in skill level even if they felt they were had 80% or better efficiency.  The data has shown that students perceive to be more confident in the use of computers in their core classes when taking a computer literacy course.  Also, students feel that computers will be useful in their future.  A majority of students surveyed perceived that touch keying (keyboarding), Word, PowerPoint, Internet concepts, and file maintenance were very or extremely useful to them in their core classes, such as math, science, English, and social studies.  Basically, the students felt that these were the main technologies being incorporated in their core classes. 

From the data collected so far from teachers, one can see that students have deficiencies in their computer skills and teachers are requiring students to have these skills prior to taking their course. 

VIII.         Recommendations

 

Based upon the student and teacher survey results on computer literacy education, the next step would be to design a curriculum that would allow students to get the skills that they need in order to improve their overall literacy, eliminate time spent by core subject content teachers instructing the use of technology in their classes, and to design a curriculum that involves a comprehensive framework of performance, context, and linguistic activities.  The recommendations below will outline this comprehensive approach for maximizing computer literacy.

 

  1. Microsoft Word
    • It is the most widely used software in high school education
    • Teachers have expressed the students do not have all the required skills
    • Teachers wanted students to go beyond the basics
    • Formatting reports, letters, memos, and desktop publishing media
       

 

  1. Microsoft PowerPoint
    • Third most used software
    • Had the highest percentage of teachers that felt students’ skills need to improve
    • Creating and presenting effective slide show presentations including audio and video

 

 

  1. Internet usage, research, & concepts
    • A reoccurring theme was that students did not know how to use the Internet or
    • How to find and evaluate credible sources of information
    • Effectively use search engines and subject directories using Boolean Logic
    • Understand the complexities of the Internet
    • Develop a code of ethics in regards to computer technology

 

 

  1. Microsoft Excel
    • Over half of the teachers use Excel
    • Second highest program that teachers felt the students needed to improve their skills
    • Creating and formatting spreadsheets using formulas, function, and charting
       

 

  1. Web Design
    • Thirty-two percent of the teachers use or would like to use Front Page in their classes
    • With the increase in Internet usage, the students will need these skills to move into the technology future
    • Creating a website incorporating the web design elements of content, page layout, graphics, navigation, design, and information
       

 

  1. Touch Keying (keyboard usage and practice)
    • Developing keyboarding skills using the alphabetic keyboard
    • Proper keying technique will minimize the potential health hazards
    • Improve keying speed and productivity with the computer

 

An example of a comprehensive approach for maximizing computer literacy for ALL students is as follows:

1.  Performance:  Evaluating Web Resources by finding sources using Internet, think critically about the source credibility, access web and how to locate browser, conduct keyword searches, and select appropriate sources

 

2.  Contextual Factors:  Consider the source by identifying the author, source, professional organization, and accuracy of message

 

3.   Linguistic Activities:  Conducting research by reading and navigating hypertext while scanning web design elements

 

As stated earlier, Lee-Ann Kastman-Breuch declares, “This framework is a starting point for future research in applying this framework to pedagogical settings and report results from such application.  Also, future research might also begin to develop stronger theoretical stances with regard to the collective issues I have identified.”  (Kastman-Breuch, 280)  This critical thinking regarding technological literacy and developing a framework to guide our computer aged youth in the use of technology is where our district must start.  We, as a community, which includes administrators, teachers, parents, business professionals, and students have identified in the action research survey results and the technology plan of our district that computer literacy is important part of one’s education and future success in today’s technological society.

From a large school district like mine, we realize that there may be some students who have the required skills.  With that said, we would differentiate those students for by giving them an opportunity to meet the graduation requirement without taking a class. 

A proficiency test will be developed to assess the key skills that the students should have when exiting the required class.  They will include the following items:  the formatting of an academic report in Word, the use of a spreadsheet in Excel, a web search activity, the creation of a PowerPoint presentation, and a three-minute timing exercise evaluating accuracy and speed.  We could offer the test to incoming freshman students that believe that they could test out of the class during the winter or spring semester before their freshmen year.

The final step to this process will be the hardest.  The graduation requirement needs to be changed.  The administration will have to be convinced that their investment in technology needs to be maximized and our students need more skills to compete in this 21st century.  This final step is my next venture to my action research project regarding “Computer Literacy Education, What are the Outcomes?”

 

REFERENCES

 

 

 

Dede, C. J.  “Imagining technology’s role in restructuring for learning.”  Restructuring for learning with technology.  In K. Sheingold & M. S. Tucker (Eds.)  New York:  Center for Technology in Education, 49-72.  1990. 

 

District 211 Budget (April 17, 2004).  [Online]  Available:  www.d211.org

 

Dugger, William. "Standards for Technological Literacy." Phi Delta

Kappan 82.7 (2001): 513-17.

 

Faigley, Lester. "Beyond Imagination: The Internet and Global Digital Literacy." Passions, Pedagogies, and 21st Century Technologies.  Ed. Gail E. Hawisher and Cynthia L. Selfe. Logan, UT: Utah  State UP, 1999. 129-39.

 

Fanning, James.  “Expanding the Definition of Technological Literacy in Schools.”  [Online]  Available:  www.mcrel.org.  Retrieved December 2, 2004.

 

Hotta-Dover, Kimeiko.  “Essential Computer Skills – Getting Started.”  [Online]  Available:  www.adulted.about.com.  Retrieved November 2, 2004.

 

Interview.  Eric Wenckowski.  Technology Trailblazer.  Business Teacher.  William Fremd High School.  Conducted:  November 2, 2004.

 

Kastman-Breuch, Lee-Ann.  “Thinking Critically about Technological Literacy:  Developing a Framework to Guide Computer Pedagogy in Technical Communication.”  Technical Communication Quarterly.  University of Minnesota.  Vol. 11, No. 3, 267-288. Summer 2002

 

Salpeter, Judy.  “21st Century Skills:  Will Our Students Be Prepared?”  Technology & Learning v24 no3 p17-18, 20, 22, 24, 26.  2003.  [On-line]  Available:   www.techlearning.com.  Retrieved November 2, 2004.

 

Township High School District 211 (2002). Annual Report.  Palatine: Township High School District 211

 

US Census (April 17, 2004).  [Online]  Available: www.census.gov