A Study of Central Iowa High School Seniors' Computer Literacy and Word Processing Skills
Friestad-Tate, Jill M.
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The problem: The purpose of this study was to determine the computer literacy and word processing skill level of central Iowa high school seniors. Computer literacy was defined as computer terminology, troubleshooting, and appropriate use of technology, legal and ethical issues in technology, and Internet research and evaluation. Word processing was defined as the ability to create documents using word processing software and incorporate tables and graphs from other applications (TekXam Manual, 2001) Procedures: The study employed 113 central Iowa high school seniors, randomly selected from a stratified sample of districts by size, during the spring semester of their graduating year. Several questions were asked to determine if differences existed in test scores between students with various levels of access to computers at school and home, gender, and school size. Students and administrators completed demographic sheets to gain insight regarding computer usage and availability. Student demographic variables included gender, computer availability at home, and computer courses taken beyond the basic keyboarding. Administrator demographic variables included technology money available for each building and district, student: computer ratio, number of computers in the building with access to the Internet, and the comfort and skill level of teachers with various computer applications. Findings: The findings included statistically significant results on the General Computing Concepts module for those students who had access to a computer to complete schoolwork and those who did not and the Word Processing module between medium and large and non-public schools. No statistically significant differences were reported in regard to gender, having a computer at home, or taking a computer course beyond basic keyboarding. Seven of 113 students passed the general computing concepts module; while forty-one of 113 students passed the word processing module. Conclusions: The findings reject conclusions that central Iowa high school seniors have the necessary computer literacy and word processing skill to pass the TekXam assessment evaluation. Recommendations: Recommendations for future research include: expanding the study to include a larger sample; conducting a study on the type of technology and connectivity available to the various districts; conducting a study to ask employers if a passing score on the TekXam assessment evaluation would make a difference in hiring an employee and conducting a study of the comfort and skill level of teachers teaching technology skills.
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