To What Degree Are Undergraduate Students Using Their Personal Computers to Support Their Daily Study Practices?

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Authors: KwongNui Sim & Russell Butson, University of Otago, New Zealand
Published: February 2014
https://doi.org/10.22492/ije.2.1.06

Citation: Sim, K., & Butson, R. (2014). To What Degree Are Undergraduate Students Using Their Personal Computers to Support Their Daily Study Practices? IAFOR Journal of Education, 2(1). https://doi.org/10.22492/ije.2.1.06


Abstract

This scoping study examines the degree to which twenty two undergraduate students used their personal computers to support their academic study. The students were selected based on their responses to a questionnaire aimed at gauging their degree of computer skill. Computer activity data was harvested from the personal computers of eighteen students and video footage of the students personal study sessions was gathered from a further four students. Three core themes emerged: (1) Academic Use vs. Non-academic Use; (2) Computer Orientated vs. Paper Orientated; and (3) Self-reports of Practice vs. Actual Practice. Overall results suggested three fundamental behaviors relating to technology use: 1] they were more likely to engage in nonacademic work than academic work on their personal computer; 2] they were more inclined to use paper-based approaches compared to digital ones despite the high rate of personal computer ownership and internet access; 3] there was a disparity between students’ self-reports of the degree to which they used their personal computers for academic purposes (high) and nonacademic purposes (low) to what we found from computer logs which showed academic use as low and non-academic use as high. From these results we conclude that for this group of students computers played an important role in their day to day lives, but the degree to which they were used in their academic study was lower than we had expected.

Keywords

student learning, e-learning, higher education, e-literacy, student study habits