CEC Theses and Dissertations

Title

An Investigation of the Effects of The Integration of Computing Technology in a Science Curriculum on Female Students' Self-Efficacy Beliefs Toward Computing

Date of Award

2005

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences

Advisor

Steven R. Terrell

Committee Member

Timothy Ellis

Committee Member

Maxine S. Cohen

Abstract

Literature indicates clear evidence that women are underrepresented in computer related fields of study and professions. This gender inequity can be attributed to women's lack of interest and participation in the use of technology (American Association of University Women, 2000). Since males and females display a similar interest in technology during their early school years, it is perplexing that such a large gender gap exists by high school (Oliveri, 2004). One of the major factors influencing technology acceptance is self-efficacy toward computing (Emurian, 2004).

The purpose of this study was to investigate the role that a computer-enhanced curriculum played in influencing female students' self-efficacy beliefs toward computing. Literature indicates that female students enjoy working on tasks that are interdisciplinary in nature. This is especially true with regards to technology (Margolis & Fisher, 2003). If the computer-enhanced curriculum is linked to other subject areas, it is more likely to be appealing to young women (Clark, 2003). Traditional computer courses are typically taught as an isolated curriculum. If female students can understand that technology can be used for more than just programming, they may be more apt to become actively involved and increase their self-efficacy beliefs.

The results of this study demonstrated that female students who participated in an integrated approach to computing had significantly higher self-efficacy beliefs toward computing than students who participated in a traditional computer class. The students using the integrated model of instruction became more engaged with technology. The female students in this group enjoyed learning about computers and developed confidence needed to complete technology tasks. The results of this study offer a possible solution for changing female students' decisions to enroll in computer courses.

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