Date Approved

6-2008

Date Posted

12-15-2009

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

College of Technology

Committee Member

Mary Brake, Ph.D., Chair

Committee Member

Al Bellamy, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Ronald Fulkert, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Nelson Maylone, Ed.D.

Abstract

The purpose of this research was to investigate technology perceptions of high school students and analyze the results by gender. The objective was to examine whether high school boys and girls differ in their technology perceptions and whether that difference is related to their intent to select a technology major in college.

The research employed survey analysis of 152 students from two high schools from suburban and rural locations in the Midwest. The sample included 72 boys and 80 girls. The students were surveyed to examine their confidence in working with technology products, their locus of control (or their perception of control over their life’s outcomes), their confidence in math and science, the degree to which they considered technology work as fun, their opinions about people who might influence them - such as teachers and counselors at school and parents at home - and the degree to which their opinions conformed to the conventional wisdom that technology is best suited for boys. The final survey instrument used for this research was loosely based on an existing questionnaire formulated by the Assessing Women in Engineering Project. Three pilot studies were carried out to validate this instrument.

The data were analyzed using bivariate correlation. The study found statistically significant differences between the way boys and girls perceive technology. There was a statistically significant positive correlation for girls between their locus of control scores and their intent to choose a technology major in college. Locus of control also positively correlated with their confidence in math and science and with their opinion that technology work is fun. In the case of boys, their intent to choose a technology college major was found to be statistically significantly positively correlated to their selfconfidence in math and science, and with their opinion that technology work was fun. Girls with low locus of control scores generally felt that technology is boys’ area. Students were found to have a limited knowledge of technology, where an overwhelming majority indicated that technology means computers.

This study demonstrates the need for intervention at the high school level, where perceptions about technology guide students’ future major choices. It points to the need to build technology self-confidence in high school years. The study also finds the need to equate technology with “fun” for both boys and girls. It indicates a need to involve students in hands-on activities where they leave with a feeling of success and self-accomplishment. According to this study’s findings, there is need for greater clarity in talking about technology choices to students. The study highlights the need to ensure zero gender bias and be cognizant of various gender differences in schools. Technology self-confidence and locus of control were found to be significant moderators of boys’ and girls’ intent to choose technology majors in college.

Share

COinS