Date of Award

1988

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Human Resource Education and Workforce Development

First Advisor

Joe W. Kotrlik

Abstract

The objectives of this study were: to determine the computer anxiety levels of Cooperative Extension Service agents; to describe agents' concerning computer use, skill levels, availability and use of office computers, formal computer training, and administrative support; and to determine the variance in computer anxiety explained by selected variables. A mailed questionnaire to 544 randomly selected Southern Region agents was used with a 97.8% response rate. Computer anxiety levels were measured using Oetting's (1983) Computer Anxiety Scale (COMPAS). Descriptive statistics and correlation coefficients were calculated. Stepwise multiple regression at the.05 level was used to develop a model which explained agents' computer anxiety score. Findings indicated that 55% of the agents were experiencing general computer anxiety with 75% reporting anxiety on the computer science subscale. Two-thirds of the agents use a computer; one-half classified themselves as beginners or novices; and 85% have access to an office computer. One-third of these computers are located in a central office and shared with one to four other people from 9 to 16 hours weekly with agents using them $1{3\over4}$ hours weekly. Only 8% of the agents have computers in personal offices which they use $6{1\over2}$ hours weekly. Agents perceived administrators to be supportive of computer use. Two-thirds of the respondents had some formal computer training with one-half having completed less than nine hours of instruction. Ninety percent had completed in-service training. Moderate correlation existed between computer anxiety and skill level. Low correlation was found between computer anxiety and hours use weekly. In the regression model, skill level, typing skills, mathematical ability and hours use weekly explained 37% of the variance in computer anxiety. The agents' computer anxiety was higher than the level reported in studies with samples of other populations. Recommendations were that additional computer training and incentives be implemented to encourage agents' computer use. Computers should be put in personal offices; relief time made available for skill improvement; and computer literate agents hired and utilized to reduce computer anxiety levels in Extension.

Pages

124

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