This study examined three related features of computer anxiety in college students: (1) What attitudes and beliefs do students have about computers that cause them to feel anxious? (2) What are some of the correlates of computer anxiety? (3) To what extent does hands-on computer experience reduce computer fears? The first question was addressed with the development of the Attitudes Toward Computers questionnaire. A principal-components factor analysis yielded three orthogonal factors: Appreciation of Computer Technology, Computer Usage Anxiety, and the Computer's Negative Impact on Society. Correlates were explored by means of a questionnaire battery administered to 220 undergraduates from four area colleges. Their scores on the Attitudes Toward Computers questionnaire represented the dependent variables of a multiple regression analysis; gender, age, college major, parents' education, computer experience, math anxiety, and trait anxiety represented the independent variables. Reduction of computer fears was examined by comparing changes in computer attitudes over a semester among two introductory computer programming classes and one introductory psychology class (N=50). A two-factor repeated-measures analysis of variance measured the changes with the Attitudes Toward Computers questionnaire. In addition, seven clinical interviews with selected computer-anxious and nonanxious students expanded on the concept of computer anxiety. The regression analysis found five of the eight independent variables to be significant contributors to computer anxiety: gender, level of computer experience, college major, math anxiety, and trait anxiety. Separate analyses for each gender uncovered different combinations of predictor variables, suggesting that computer attitudes are gender-specific and culturally-learned. The repeated-measures analysis of variance found that the programming courses reduced computer usage anxiety; however, the courses did not decrease students' fears regarding the computer's negative impact on society, nor did they increase students' appreciation of computer technology. The interviews suggested that a pre-programming course emphasizing computer usage and computer applications to actual work situations would facilitate the learning of abstract programming concepts. Finally, this study concluded that computer anxiety comprises a heterogeneous set of fears which evolve along an assimilation/accomodation continuum.
Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 42-11, Section: A, page: 4775. Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Pennsylvania, 1981.