ASIS&T 2006 START Conference Manager    

Factors Contributing to Mature Adult Novices' Computer Skills Learning: A Case Study in a Community Training Program

Pok and S. K. Hastings

ASIS&T Annual Meeting - 2006 (ASIS&T 2006)
Austin, Texas, November 3-9, 2006


This research proposes to improve computer training programs by evaluating adult novices’ learning performance in a community center. This study intents to identify factors, such as motivation, compatibility with daily activities, fear, and past experience, that affect adult novices’ computer skills acquisition. This study has two main goals: (1) researchers actively participate in an existing training program in a community center; (2) evaluate users’ learning performance. Data collected from this research will provide insight into (1) how adult novices perceive information and communication technologies (ICT); (2) factors that promote higher information and communication technologies learning rate within adult novices; (3) the value of computer training classes provided by community network. This research studies adult novice computer learning using Bandura’s social cognitive theory, Roger’s diffusion of innovation framework, and Chatman’s concepts on information impoverished people. Social cognitive theory provides a triadic reciprocal relationship to explicate interactions within human behavior, cognition, and environmental influences. Diffusion of innovation framework offers an established structure to examine how innovation disseminates, in this case adult novices adopting computer skills. Chatman’s work on the world of the information poor, such as janitors and aging population, gives this research more insightful references to study adult novices’ computer learning behaviors (1996). This study adopts a participatory research approach. The researchers are actively involved in training classes as both lecturers and mentors. Involvement with the training program has much more potential to provide insightful information regarding the user’s perception, feelings and behavior. As participant observers, researchers are more likely to generate ‘balanced’ perspectives. This study focuses on adult novices who attend ungraded voluntary training classes. Many published articles have looked at computer skill learning research using college or K-12 students. There is a need for more research that investigates the information impoverished population’s learning behavior. Adult novices have very different computer use experience, perception, self-efficacy, and self-confidence from college and K-12 students. This research proposes that the adult novice computer learning is a unique and separated problem from other user studies. The themes in this research are expected to be very different from college or K-12 students. The intellectual merit of this study lies in evaluating the learning model of adult computer novices that may improve training efficiency and help a distinct user group be more self-sufficient in the digital environment. The broader impacts include better computer training programs that fit adult novices’ learning styles, empowering adult novices with essential computer skills to improve their lives such as getting better health care information, education, work force information, and connecting with family members.

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