Computer self-efficacy - is there a gender gap in tertiary level introductory computing classes?

Gibbs, Shirley F.
Journal Article
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This paper explores the relationship between introductory computing students, self-efficacy, and gender. Since the use of computers has become more common there has been speculation that the confidence and ability to use them differs between genders. Self-efficacy is an important and useful concept used to describe how a student may perceive their own ability or confidence in using and learning new technology. A survey of students in an introductory computing class has been completed intermittently since the late 1990's. Although some questions have been adapted to meet the changing technology the aim of the survey has remain unchanged. In this study self-efficacy is measured using two self-rating questions. Students are asked to rate their confidence using a computer and also asked to give their perception of their computing knowledge. This paper examines these two aspects of a person's computer self-efficacy in order to identify any differences that may occur between genders in two introductory computing classes, one in 1999 and the other in 2012. Results from the 1999 survey are compared with those from the survey completed in 2012 and investigated to ascertain if the perception that males were more likely to display higher computer self-efficacy levels than their female classmates does or did exist in a class of this type. Results indicate that while overall there has been a general increase in self-efficacy levels in 2012 compared with 1999, there is no significant gender gap.
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Copyright © 2013 Gibbs, S.
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