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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Computers in the home curriculum project : an atttitude and gender study Van Alstyne, Audrey May


Computers are a valuable tool for education. Studies have proven that the computer can assist in the development of a positive self-concept and a positive attitude toward school. Computers can increase student-teacher interaction and achievement by individualizing the learning process. The research clearly documents the dominance of males in the computer field. Home economics educators have the ability to assist individuals and families in using this tool to their best advantage. This research study included 224 students at Sir Charles Tupper School in Vancouver, B.C. The students were thirteen or fourteen years of age and in grade nine or ten. The study was conducted between September 1989 and February 1990. The purpose of this study was to determine if the integration of computers into home economics can encourage attitude changes and promote equitable computer use between male and female students. This study will test the assertion of previous research that indicates females are less interested in computers and less likely to use computers than males. Can females do as well as males and males as well as females when given the opportunity to study personally relevant material under the supervision of a female role model? Of the 224 students in the study, 185 were in the control group and 39 were in the treatment group. The treatment involved participation in the new course, Computers in the Home. This course studies the impact of computers on family life, and explores personal and home computer applications. The survey was designed to assess student attitudes toward the computer and how they may have changed as a result of the course. Student responses to the survey were analyzed using SPSS-X and Chi-Square analyses were performed to determine any significant differences. During the period of study, the enrollment patterns in both Computer Science and Computers in the Home refute the majority of research in that more females than males were enrolled in these computer classes. It was expected and postulated that students enrolled in Computers in the Home would have been exposed to a different experience than those not enrolled. Unfortunately, there was no significant difference between the attitudes of the students enrolled in the course and students not enrolled in Computers in the Home. Although empirical observation throughout the study period lead the researcher to believe there were differences, statistical analysis of the survey responses did not support this observation. Males overtly displayed their enjoyment—they were more adventurous, aggressive and curious. Female students were quieter and tended to be more covert toward this machine. Since no difference in attitude was found, this research study has shown that females are as interested and use computers as often as male students at Sir Charles Tupper School. Although females react differently toward computers, the general trend appears to be moving toward more equitable computer experiences for all.

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