• This article reports on a replication of an earlier (1985) study that assessed the development of information technology (IT) skills in upper primary and lower secondary school students in a city school district in Western Australia. The 1985 study compared the effectiveness of the informal computing curriculum in two primary schools to the formalised courses in the junior classes of a secondary school. A replication of this study in 1991 found that despite a significant increase in computer usage among primary school students, the secondary school computing agenda had changed very little. A comparison of results from both studies revealed that instructional uses of computers in schools is an effective means of developing students' IT skills, a finding that questions the place of formal computer literacy courses in schools. There is a need however, to be aware of the needs of all students. In both studies, discrete groups within the student population were found to have significantly different IT skills. Summary and conclusions The replication of a 1985 study of students' IT skills in 1991 revealed interesting results. The 1991 data showed little change to the computing programme in the secondary school since 1985 despite large changes to students' prior exposure to computers. There were significant differences found between the students in all the cognitive and affective measures employed. The increased exposure to, and use of computers between, the two samples of students resulted in increased computer knowledge and changes in attitudes towards using computers. The gender differences that were observed among primary students in the 1985 study were still evident in 1991. However fewer gender differences were evident in the secondary population in 1991 when compared to that in 1985. The data gathered from both studies indirectly supports the view that the need for formal courses of computer literacy has diminished as computer usage has become more commonplace. Both studies provided evidence that questioned the capacity of formal courses of instruction as a means of developing IT skills among all students. For many students, formal courses of instruction were not successful in developing appropriate levels of computer knowledge. Primary students in the 1991 study had developed similar levels of computer knowledge merely through informal exposure to computers as had the secondary students in 1985 through formal courses of computer instruction. There was a learning advantage to students exposed to the formal course of instruction in the secondary school but informal use of computers in this setting would also have provided an advantage. Of concern was the finding that there were still many students who lacked a basic knowledge of computers and technology. It appeared that neither a formal course nor informal use of computers was sufficient to develop IT skills among sections of the student population. There was no evidence of any measures being taken to overcome this problem. Unless specific moves are taken, such results will likely be found in a similar study in 1998. ()
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  • 2016-06-24 ()
  • 10.1111/j.1467-8535.1993.tb00641.x ()
  • 62 ()
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  • 1 ()
  • en ()
  • fr ()
  • 1993-01-01 ()
  • Blackwell Publishing Ltd ()
  • 21802 ()
  • 2 ()
  • 52 ()
  • A comparison of students' information technology skills in 1985 and 1991 ()
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