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Computers & Education 55 (2010) 16–23
Contents lists available at ScienceDirect
Computers & Education
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/compedu
Boys’ and girls’ ICT beliefs: Do teachers matter?
Ioanna Vekiri *
University of Western Macedonia, Department of Primary Education, P.O. Box 21 GR-53100 Florina, Greece
a r t i c l e
i n f o
Article history:
Received 5 June 2009
Received in revised form 19 November 2009
Accepted 25 November 2009
Keywords:
Gender studies
Pedagogical issues
Secondary education
Teaching/learning strategies
a b s t r a c t
This exploratory study took place in the context of middle school information science in Greece, to examine possible relations between boys’ and girls’: value and efficacy beliefs about computers and information science; perceived parental support; perceived teacher expectations; and perceptions of the nature
of information science instruction. The participants of the study were 301 (135 male and 166 female) students who responded to a self-report questionnaire. Regression analysis showed that perceived teacher
expectations were positively associated with students’ ability beliefs, perceptions of learning activities as
creative and personally meaningful was a significant predictor of students’ interest in computing, and
perceived parental support was related to both value and efficacy beliefs. Unlike previous research, the
findings of this study did not support the conclusion that boys have more positive ICT self-efficacy and
value beliefs than girls. They indicated however, that boys’ and girls’ beliefs are differentially affected
by parents, teachers, and school IS instruction.
Ó 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
1. Introduction
The introduction of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in the educational system of many countries has been accompanied by a proliferation of research on ICT attitudes and beliefs (i.e. Moos & Azevedo, 2009; Volman & van Eck, 2001), documenting their
significance for learning about and with ICTs. Students who have confidence in their computer abilities can successfully perform learning
tasks that involve ICT use (Moos & Azevedo, 2009), and those who enjoy and value using computers pursue activities, courses, and academic programs that will help them improve their skills (Dickhäuser & Stiensmeier-Pelster, 2003; Selwyn, 1998) and prepare for a professional career in the ICT field (Zarrett, Malanchuk, Davis-Kean, & Eccles, 2006). For a large number of young people exposure to computers
begins at home, at an early age. Research has shown that out of school computer experiences are strongly related to student attitudes and
relationship with technology (Moos & Azevedo, 2009; Selwyn, 1998; Vekiri & Chronaki, 2008), and that gendered socialization processes
may differentially affect the development of ICT beliefs in boys and girls (Barker & Aspray, 2006; Margolis & Fisher, 2002; Volman & van
Eck, 2001). Less is known, however, about the role of teachers and formal school instruction. In this exploratory study, which took place in
Greece in the context of introductory information science (IS) at the lower secondary school level (Gymnasium), student questionnaire data
were collected to examine possible relations between boys’ and girls’: value and efficacy beliefs about computers and information science;
perceived parental support; perceived teacher achievement expectations; and perceptions of the nature of information science instruction.
2. Theoretical framework
Research has highlighted the importance of ability and value beliefs for student motivation and learning. Students’ perceptions of their
ability to successfully perform tasks in a particular academic domain, defined as self-efficacy beliefs within the framework of Bandura’s
social cognitive theory (Bandura, 1993), are significant predictors of student activity choices, effort, persistence and use of self-regulation
strategies (Zimmerman, 2000). Self-efficacious students are not afraid to undertake challenging tasks, invest effort and do not give up easily
when they encounter difficulties, and are motivated to use cognitive and metacognitive strategies when they learn (Zimmerman, 2000).
According to value-expectancy theory (Wigfield & Eccles, 2000), the influence of ability beliefs on motivation and performance is moderated by students’ value beliefs, as the latter affect students’ task choice and engagement. Value beliefs are students’ views about the importance (attainment value), the usefulness (utility value), the enjoyment or interest (intrinsic value), and the cost involved in performing
* Tel.: +30 2310 457619; fax: +30 2310 449787.
E-mail addresses: [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]
0360-1315/$ - see front matter Ó 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2009.11.013
I. Vekiri / Computers & Education 55 (2010) 16–23
17
tasks of a particular domain (Wigfield & Eccles, 2000). Students are more likely to engage in academic tasks and to pursue activities that
they consider interesting, useful and important to them (Wigfield & Eccles, 2000). Both value and self-efficacy beliefs have a significant
effect on the quality of student learning (Pintrich & DeGroot, 1990) and are important predictors of students’ future academic choices
and career paths (Bandura, Barbaranelli, Caprara, & Pastorelli, 2001; Eccles, 1994; Zarrett et al., 2006).
There is considerable research showing that boys and girls differ in their ability and value beliefs for academic domains that are traditionally gender-typed as ‘‘male” or ‘‘female”, in patterns that are consistent with gender norms and stereotypes (Meece, Glienke, & Burg,
2006). In particular, research on ICT learning shows that girls tend to have less positive beliefs about the value of ICT and their own ICT
skills compared to boys (Volman & van Eck, 2001; Whitley, 1997). Boys’ and girls’ motivational beliefs are shaped by their experiences
and may follow different developmental paths as a result of gendered socialization processes (Eccles, 1994; Meece et al., 2006). According
to value-expectancy theory (Eccles, 1994), parents and teachers can have a positive influence on young people’ ICT ability and value beliefs
by providing learning opportunities and by encouraging engagement in ICT activities, by expressing positive expectations and positive values about the importance, usefulness and appropriateness of computing, and by modeling ICT use. Research on student ICT use outside
school has shown that, compared to girls, boys have more opportunities to experience success with ICTs, and, therefore, they are more
likely to develop positive ability beliefs: boys are more likely than girls to have access to a personal computer at home, to use computers
in the context of peer activities, and to attend computer clubs (Barker & Aspray, 2006; Volman & van Eck, 2001). In addition, boys are more
likely than girls to have access to same-gender parental role models (Margolis & Fisher, 2002) and to receive encouragement from their
parents to improve their knowledge about ICT (Vekiri & Chronaki, 2008), which, in turn, may result in boys’ developing more positive beliefs about the appropriateness and value of computing, compared to girls. These findings about the role of parental support are consistent
with research regarding other male-typed domains, such as math, showing that parents who espouse gender stereotypes have lower
expectations for their daughters’ math abilities, and that parental views and expectations have long-term effects on children’s motivational
beliefs and academic choices (Bleeker & Jacobs, 2004; Eccles, Adler, & Kaczala, 1982).
Although research so far has established a relationship between boys’ and girls’ ICT ability and value beliefs and their home ICT experiences, little is known about students’ classroom experiences and the role of their teachers. The present study aims at (a) exploring two
teacher factors, teacher expectations and pedagogy, which, based on previous research, are expected to relate to student ICT beliefs, and (b)
examining the relative importance of these teacher factors compared to parental support.
As sources of authority and expertise, teachers are likely to exert a powerful influence on boys’ and girls’ ability beliefs about technology
through the achievement expectations they communicate. Classroom research has shown that teacher–student interaction is gendered
(Aukrust, 2008; Jones & Dindia, 2004) and that teachers’ tend to have differential achievement expectations for boys and girls in maletyped academic domains (Fennema, Peterson, Carpenter, & Lubinski, 1990; Li, 1999). However, little is known about teacher expectations
regarding boys’ and girls’ ICT use and about the influence of teacher expectations on student ability beliefs. Observational studies in the
context of school ICT use (Singh, 1993) and information science instruction at the college level (Clegg, Trayhurn, & Johnson, 2000) have
shown that teachers’ behavior often reflects stereotyped beliefs and communicates gendered expectations, which become visible to the
students. Shashaani (1993) found that high-school students perceived their teachers to have stereotyped views about the appropriateness
of computer science for males and females. Research shows that teacher expectations affect student achievement and that girls in gendered
domains such as mathematics are more susceptible to teacher underestimates of their ability (MCKown & Weinstein, 2002). Positive teacher expectations and support, on the other hand, may have a positive effect on female students’ motivation. In a 3-year study of girls’
participation in single and mixed-gender high school information science classes, Crombie, Abarbanel, and Trinneer (2002) found that girls
in the all-female classes perceived higher levels of teacher support and expressed more positive efficacy beliefs than girls in the mixedgender classes.
Also, teachers may influence student beliefs about the value of ICTs through their pedagogical practices. Research has shown that teachers can enhance student motivation for learning using challenging and authentic tasks that provide opportunities for exploration and collaboration, are connected to the real-world, and appeal to student interests (Blumenfeld et al., 1991; Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 2000;
Schunk, Pintrich, & Meece, 2007). However, studies in various countries (Clarke & Teague, 1996 in Australia; Goode, Estrella, & Margolis,
2006 in the US; Kordaki, 2001 in Greece) indicate that information science instruction tends to be teacher-centered and to focus on the
development of decontextualized technical skills, providing students with few opportunities for collaboration and engagement in challenging, creative, and personally meaningful tasks. This approach may have differential effects on boys and girls’ motivation because boys and
girls are attracted to different aspects of ICTs and differ in their instructional preferences. Boys tend to be interested in the technical aspects
of computing more than girls (Brunner, Bennett, & Honey, 1998) and prefer discovering things and solving computer problems on their own
(Ching, Kafai, & Marshall, 2000). Girls, on the other hand, are interested in the creative aspects and real-life applications of technology
(Brunner et al., 1998; Lynn, Raphael, Olefsky, & Bachen, 2003), and prefer instructional formats that enable them to collaborate and to share
what they learn (Ching et al., 2000; Clegg et al., 2000; Volman, van Eck, Heemskerk, & Kuiper, 2005). It appears that although ‘‘traditional”
instruction might not be detrimental for boys’ interest in computing, it could be a turnoff to girls. Moreover, this approach to information
science instruction has been criticized for communicating stereotypical images of computing as ‘‘purely technical, menial, and disengaged
from the social world” (Clarke & Teague, 1996; Crombie et al., 2002; Margolis & Fisher, 2002). This image of computing is incompatible with
the personal values and long-term plans of girls, who rate social values high and prefer to study academic subjects that have social applications and, in the long-term, would enable them to ‘‘do something worthwhile for society” (Eccles, 1994). Therefore, by failing to show the
collaborative nature of computing, its relevance to many disciplines, and its contribution to the solution of everyday problems, traditional
instruction may have negative effects on girls’ beliefs about the personal importance and usefulness of computing.
It has been argued (Crombie et al., 2002; Goode et al., 2006; Lynn et al., 2003) that girls would develop more interest in ICTs if school
learning valued their academic interests and were aligned with their instructional preferences. Based on the above, a gender-inclusive pedagogical approach to computer learning would be student-centered. Information science teachers could motivate both boys and girls
through inquiry-based and exploratory tasks that are relevant to everyday life, encourage collaboration and creativity, and take into account student interests. It is also possible that, by demonstrating the social applications of technology through such activities, teachers
could help girls realize that studying computing is not inconsistent with their personal values and long-term academic plans.
Research so far indicates that teachers might influence girls’ relationship with technology, both with their teaching practices and with
the expectations they communicate. However, few studies investigated these hypotheses (i.e. Shashaani, 1993) and much of relevant
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I. Vekiri / Computers & Education 55 (2010) 16–23
research involves small scale observational or case studies (i.e. Singh, 1993). In this study I collected student survey data to examine the
relationship between boys’ and girls’ ICT motivational beliefs, perceptions of their teachers’ expectations and of the activities that were
used in the context of middle-school introductory information science. I hypothesized that students’ perceptions of learning tasks as creative and relevant to the real-world would positively correlate with ICT value beliefs and that perceived teacher expectations would be
associated with self-efficacy beliefs about ICT. The effects of perceived teacher expectations and student views of information science
instruction were examined in relation to another factor, parental support, which in previous research (Dickhäuser & Stiensmeier-Pelster,
2003; Vekiri & Chronaki, 2008) was found to be a significant predictor of boys’ and girls’ ICT efficacy and value beliefs.
3. Methods
3.1. Context of the study
The Greek educational system is highly centralized. A national curriculum exists for all school subjects at the elementary and secondary
levels. A detailed syllabus and a textbook are prepared by the Pedagogic Institute for each subject at each grade level, and are ratified by the
Ministry of Education (Kontogiannopoulou-Polydorides, Georgakakos, & Zavoudakis, 1996). Information science (IS) is taught as a separate
subject in lower secondary education, starting in grade 7 which is the first year of Gymnasium. According to the information science
curriculum, at the elementary level students should develop computer skills by using ICTs across academic subjects. However, not all
elementary schools have been equipped with computer rooms and only a very small number of teachers in these schools have begun
to integrate ICTs into their teaching (Vosniadou & Kollias, 2001). Therefore, a large number of Greek students use computers at school
for the first time in grade 7.
The information science curriculum includes learning about computer hardware and software, basic applications (i.e. word processing,
spreadsheets, e-mail), computer and internet safe use for grades 7 and 8, and introduction to programming (with Logo) for grade 9. The
syllabus and the current textbook encourage hands-on activities in laboratory settings and emphasize the social aspects of technology.
Studies utilizing surveys and interviews (Kordaki, 2001; Vosniadou & Kollias, 2001) show that most information science teachers acknowledge the positive effects of laboratory instruction on student motivation as well as its potential to transform the nature of teaching and
learning. However, they hesitate to enact student-centered teaching approaches such as group work and long-term, interdisciplinary projects, because they do not have adequate pedagogical training. Hence, much of information science instruction is based on the ‘‘knowledge
transmission model”, where the teacher presents theoretical concepts and procedures on the blackboard, and students perform small computer assignments to develop and apply new skills.
3.2. Participants
Grade 8 and 9 students (n = 301, 135 boys and 166 girls) taught by seven teachers (four females and three males) at four schools with
different student demographics responded to a self-report questionnaire at the end of the 2007–2008 school year. Students came from diverse family backgrounds; 37.4% from upper–middle, 41.2% from middle and 21.4% from low SES families, based on father’s occupation and
education. Parental SES was coded as follows: upper–middle SES = university graduates; middle SES = white-color employees or self-employed professionals with secondary and postsecondary degrees; and low SES = manual workers with elementary and/or secondary education. Table 1 provides school, teacher and student information.
3.3. Materials and procedures
The questionnaire included 26 Likert-type questions, ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree), that addressed: students’
self-efficacy (four questions); value beliefs (six questions about attainment, utility, and intrinsic value); perceived parental support (six
questions); perceived teacher expectations (four questions); and views about IS learning activities (six questions). Questions were presented in mixed order. On the last page of the survey I included questions that requested demographic information.
Items for the first three scales are specific to computers and information science and were developed based on other instruments assessing self-efficacy, task-value beliefs, and parental expectations and values (i.e. Dickhäuser & Stiensmeier-Pelster, 2003; Eccles & Wigfield,
1995; Pintrich & DeGroot, 1990). Table 2 presents sample items of each scale and Cronbach’s alphas. The items of the last two scales (perceived teacher expectations and views about IS learning activities) were constructed for the purposes of the present study. The first scale
concerns students’ perceptions of their information science teachers’ encouragement and performance expectations. The items of the second scale were developed to tap dimensions of student-centered instruction, such as the extend to which students thought that learning
activities were creative, relevant to personal interests and everyday life, and provided opportunities for collaboration (Eggen & Kauchak,
1999). Principal Axis Factor analysis (presented in Section 4) guided the construction of these two scales.
Table 1
School, teacher, and student information.
School
Student SES
Teacher name
Teacher gender
Student grade level
Number of students
One
Predominantly low SES
A
B
Female
Female
8th grade
8th grade
35
36
Two
Predominantly upper–middle SES
C
D
Male
Male
8th grade
8th grade
57
52
Three
Predominantly low and middle SES
E
F
Female
Male
8th grade
8th grade
18
36
Four
Low, middle, and upper–middle SES
G
Female
9th grade
71
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I. Vekiri / Computers & Education 55 (2010) 16–23
Table 2
Example items of the self-efficacy, value beliefs, and perceived parental support scales.
Scale
Sample items
Alpha
Self-efficacy (four items)
Compared to other students in my class I think I am good at computers
I can do even the hardest assignments in my information science class if I try enough
0.76
Value beliefs (six items)
It is important to me to do well in my information science class
My knowledge about computers is useful for my daily life
0.72
Perceived parental support (six items)
My parents think that it is important for my future to be knowledgeable about computers
My parents think I am good at computers
0.71
Table 3
Factor loadings for items regarding students’ perceptions of teacher expectations and IS instruction.
Perceived teacher
expectations
My IS teacher thinks that I can respond to the demands of this class
My IS teacher thinks that I have the abilies to study information science
My IS teacher is happy with my progress in computers
My IS teacher encourages me to try and improve
One of the things that I like in the IS class is that I can create my own things
The assignments in the IS class are relevant to my daily life
In the IS class I can use my creativity and imagination
One of the things that I like in the IS class is that I can collaborate and discuss about what I do with my fellow
students
The assignments in the IS class are related to my interests
The activities in the information science class are most of the time boring and menial (reversed)
.75
.69
.51
.50
Cronbach’s alpha
0.70
Perceptions of IS
instruction
.60
.58
.52
.49
.35
.63
Table 4
Factor loadings for items regarding students’ perceptions of parental support.
Perceived parental expectations
My
My
My
My
My
My
parents
parents
parents
parents
parents
parents
think that it is important for my future to be knowledgeable about computers
thing that it is good for me to have comptuter skills
encourage me to learn things about computers
think that I am good at computers
think that I am smart enough to improve my knowledge about computers
think that I have the abilities for computer-related studies
Cronbach’s alpha
Perceived parental values
0.70
0.58
0.57
0.85
0.51
0.36
0.65
0.59
Students completed the questionnaire anonymously in the computer room during their regular information science class. Sessions
lasted approximately 30 min. In the beginning I explained to the students the purpose of the survey and how they should respond to
the questions. I stressed that there were no right or wrong answers and that all recorded information would remain confidential.
4. Results
Principal Axis Factor analysis with oblimin rotation was used for the items that were developed to assess student perceptions of teacher
expectations and IS instruction. The analysis yielded two factors, which accounted for 33.42% of the variance. Items, factor loadings above
.30 and Cronbach’s alphas are presented in Table 3. One question did not load above .30 and was not used in further analysis. Principal Axis
Factor analysis with oblimin rotation was also conducted for the six items assessing parental support. The analysis indicated two underlying dimensions that accounted for 39.63 of the variance: perceived parental values (three items, alpha = .65) and perceived parental
expectations (three items, alpha = .59) with factor loadings above .30 (see Table 4). However, all six items were combined into one scale
(parental support, alpha = .71) that was internally more consistent.
A score for each of the five scales (self-efficacy, value beliefs, perceived parental support, perceived teacher expectations, and perceived
task creativity level) was calculated for each student by averaging the items that composed each scale. Scores could range from 1 to 7. Data
analysis showed that there was significant variation in students’ beliefs and perceptions by teacher group (see Table 5). Pairwise comparisons (with Bonferonni adjustment) showed that teacher C and, to a lesser extend, teacher B students expressed more positive value beliefs
and perceived higher teacher expectations than students taught by most of the other teachers. Also, teacher C and B students had more
positive perceptions of information science instruction compared to teacher G students and the same was true for teacher C students compared to teacher D students. There were no significant differences in perceived parental support by teacher group with the exception of
teacher C students who expressed more positive perceptions than teacher A students (p < .05).
Overall, there were no significant differences in boys’ and girls’ self-efficacy and value beliefs, as well as in their perceptions of parental
support, IS instruction, and teacher expectations (see Table 6). Some gender differences emerged, however, when separate analysis was
conducted for each teacher group (see table 7). Specifically, girls taught by teacher A (a female teacher) expressed significantly more positive value beliefs (M = 5.96, SD = .77) than boys (M = 5.26, SD = 1.15), p < .05, while in the classes taught by teachers D and F (both of
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I. Vekiri / Computers & Education 55 (2010) 16–23
Table 5
Differences in student s’ self-efficacy and value beliefs, and in perceptions of parental support, teacher expectations, and IS Instruction by teacher group.
Student beliefs and perceptions
Self-efficacy
Value beliefs
Perceived parental support
Perceived teacher expectations
Perceptions of IS instruction
a
b
c
d
M (SD)
F and p values
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
4.79
(1.00)d
5.61
(1.02)c1
5.07
(.97)d
4.60
(1.13)d1
4.75
(1.36)
5.02
(1.27)
6.07
(.87)
5.59
(1.00)
5.45
(1.07)d2
4.99
(1.33)b
5.66
(1.00)c,d
6.31
(.54)a,c1,d1,d2,c2
5.80
(.76)d
5.43
(1.00)d1,d3,d4
5.29
(.85)a1,a2
5.23
(1.20)
5.77
(.97)d1
5.35
(1.07)
4.67
(1.27)d3
4.28
(1.06)a2
5.18
(1.04)
5.50
(1.14)d2
5.52
(1.01)
4.51
(1.43)
4.64
(1.02)
4.96
(1.22)
5.61
(1.00)c2
5.31
(1.13)
4.51
(1.41)d2,d4
4.64
(.90)
4.91
(1.24)c
5.62
(.88)a
5.51
(.95)
5.08
(1.21)
4.08
(1.21)a1,b
F = 3.039, p < .01
F = 4.684, p < .001
F = 2.365, p < .05
F = 4.728, p < .001
F = 7.111, p < .001
p < .001.
p < .005.
p < .01.
p < .05.
Table 6
Mean values of boys’ and girls’ self-efficacy and value beliefs, and of perceptions of parental support, teacher expectations, and IS instruction.
Student beliefs and perceptions
Self-efficacy beliefs
Value beliefs
Perceived parental support
Perceived teacher expectations
Perceptions of IS instruction
M (SD)
Boys (n = 135)
Girls (n = 166)
5.23
5.81
5.43
4.95
4.55
5.02
5.81
5.49
4.94
4.94
(1.29)
(.97)
(.97)
(1.30)
(1.20)
(1.08)
(.91)
(.90)
(1.21)
(1.21)
t test
p value
1.525
.017
.474
.065
.818
.128
.987
.636
.948
.414
whom were male), boys expressed higher self-efficacy (M = 5.73, SD = 1.28 and M = 5.36, SD = 1.22, respectively) than girls (M = 4.78,
SD = .94 and M = 4.51, SD = 1.08, respectively, ps < .005). Also, only in the classrooms taught by teacher F boys perceived higher teacher
expectations (M = 5.14, SD = 1.07) than girls (M = 3.81, SD = 1.42).
As Table 8 shows, student beliefs correlated significantly with perceived parental support, and the two teacher variables (all ps < .001).
Students who thought that their parents and teachers encouraged them to develop their ICT knowledge and skills expressed positive
self-efficacy and value beliefs, and those who perceived learning activities as creative and personally relevant tended to also have positive
beliefs about the value of ICT learning. However, some of the correlations were significantly different by gender. The correlation between
self-efficacy beliefs and perceived parental expectations as well as the correlation between value beliefs and perceived task creativity was
higher in boys than in girls (z = 2.1, p < 0.05 and z = 3.17, p < .005, respectively). In girls the correlation between value beliefs and perceived
parental support was significantly higher than the correlation between value beliefs and perceived task creativity (z = 4.69, p < .000). In
boys the correlation between self-efficacy beliefs and perceived parental support was significantly higher than the correlation between
self-efficacy and perceived teacher expectations (z = 3.03, p < .005).
Regression analyses were conducted using ICT self-efficacy as outcome variable, and value beliefs, perceived parental support, perceptions of IS instruction, and perceived teacher expectations as predictor variables. The same analysis was performed using ICT value beliefs
as outcome variable and self-efficacy as a predictor. Socioeconomic status (SES) was also included as a predictor, after being transformed
into two dichotomous variables.1
As expected, perceived parental support and perceived teacher expectations were strongly associated with both boys’ and girls’ efficacy
(see Table 9). However, in girls perceived teacher expectations emerged as the most significant predictor but in boys it made a smaller
contribution to the model. When value beliefs was used as the dependent variable, perceived parental support was the only significant
factor for girls, while in boys perceived parental support and perceptions of IS instruction emerged as equally significant predictors (see
Table 9). Also, self-efficacy was a significant predictor of value beliefs in boys but was not associated with girls’ value beliefs. Overall, these
analyses indicated that girls were more susceptible to teacher expectations and were less influenced by the nature of IS instruction compared to boys.
I repeated the above regression analysis using intrinsic value as the outcome variable. I hypothesized that learning IS with tasks that
were perceived as creative and relevant to the real-world and to personal interests could be associated with girls’ intrinsic value beliefs
but not necessarily with their views about the importance and usefulness of IS. Intrinsic value was measured using two items from the
value beliefs scale (‘‘I enjoy working on the computer” and ‘‘I like learning new things and improving my knowledge about computers”,
alpha = .60).2 Results confirmed this hypothesis. As Table 9 shows, perceived parental support and perceptions of IS instruction emerged
as significant factors for both boys and girls. Interestingly, in girls teacher expectations was negatively associated with intrinsic value,
although the correlation between these two variables was small (R = .168). Overall, girls and boys expressed strong and equally positive
interest beliefs (M = 5.98, SD = 1.14 and M = 6.04, SD = 1.15, respectively).
1
SES1 was coded 1 for low SES and 0 for middle or high SES; SES2 was coded 1 for middle SES and 0 for low or upper–middle SES (therefore an upper–middle SES student
would get 0 for each of the above two variables).
2
I did not perform the same analysis using attainment and utility value as outcome variables due to the small internal consistency of these two sub-scales (alphas were .48 and
.51, respectively).
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I. Vekiri / Computers & Education 55 (2010) 16–23
Table 7
Gender differences in self-efficacy and value beliefs, and in perceptions of parental support, teacher expectations, and IS instruction by teacher group.
Student beliefs and perceptions
Self-efficacy
Boys
Girls
Value beliefs
Boys
Girls
Perceived parental support
Boys
Girls
Perceived teacher expectations
Boys
Girls
Perceptions of IS instruction
Boys
Girls
a
b
c
d
M (SD)
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
4.82 (1.22)
4.82 (.74)
4.79 (1.59)
5.02 (1.03)
5.73 (.98)
5.67 (1.00)
5.73 (1.28)b
4.78 (.94)b
5.18 (1.37)
5.18 (.84)
5.36 (1.22)c
4.51 (1.08)c
4.76 (1.23)
5.01 (1.25)
5.26 (1.15)a
5.96 (.77)a
6.12 (.84)
6.04 (.91)
6.40 (.53)
6.23 (.56)
5.98 (.93)
5.59 (.99)
5.43 (1.29)
5.53 (1.11)
5.82 (.91)
5.38 (1.08)
5.45 (.90)
5.74 (.85)
4.74 (1.07)
5.37 (.80)
5.53 (1.41)
5.59 (.71)
5.86 (.60)
5.77 (.87)
5.52 (1.17)
5.19 (.98)
5.55 (1.31)
5.50 (.85)
5.38 (1.27)
5.23 (.99)
5.37 (1.00)
5.61 (.92)
4.43 (1.29)
4.82 (.96)
5.12 (1.32)
5.66 (.90)
5.67 (.90)
5.21 (1.08)
4.72 (1.53)
4.63 (1.01)
4.50 (1.90)
4.53 (1.14)
5.14 (1.07)d
3.81 (1.42)d
4.82 (1.17)
5.26 (1.21)
4.47 (1.35)
5.08 (1.36)
5.05 (1.45)
5.07 (1.20)
5.17 (.70)
5.41 (.96)
4.26 (1.23)
4.29 (.91)
4.60 (1.37)
4.67 (.81)
4.69 (.95)
4.59 (.86)
4.04 (1.20)
4.10 (1.39)
p < .05.
p < .005.
p < .05.
p < .005.
Table 8
Intercorrelations between self-efficacy, value beliefs, and perceptions of parental support, teacher expectations, and IS instruction.
Girls (n = 166)
1. Self-efficacy beliefs
2. Value beliefs
3. Perceived parental support
4. Perceived teacher expectations
5. Perceptions of IS instruction
Boys (n = 135)
1. Self-efficacy beliefs
2. Value beliefs
3. Perceived parental support
4. Perceived teacher expectations
5. Perceptions IS instruction
*
1
2
3
4
5
–
.393*
–
.498*
.619*
–
.558*
.265*
.395*
–
.361*
.285*
.274*
.422*
–
–
.579*
–
.694*
.664*
–
.493*
.424*
.448*
–
.334*
.581*
.400*
.348*
–
Significance at the 0.001 level.
Table 9
Multiple regression standardized coefficients for variables predicting boys’ (n = 135) and girls’ (n = 166) ICT self-efficacy beliefs, value beliefs, and interest.
Predictors
Self-efficacyA
Boys
Step 1
SES1
SES2
IT value
Self-efficacy
Parental support
Step 2
SES1
SES2
IT value
Self-efficacy
Parental support
IS instruction
Teacher expectations
A
B
C
a
b
c
Value beliefsB
Girls
.03
.08
.24b
.12
.02
.16
.54a
.42a
.00
.07
.22c
.13c
.02
.13
.49a
.05
.19b
.26b
.10
.38a
Boys
InterestC
Girls
Boys
Girls
.03
.08
.10
.07
.07
.05
.09
.10
.26b
.48a
.13
.53a
.22c
.34b
.15
.36a
.01
.06
.09
.08
.04
.03
.06
.11
.21c
.36a
.35a
.04
.13
.53a
.10
.07
.19
.25c
.33a
.03
.17
.35a
.26a
.20c
For boys: R2 = .519 for Step 1, DR2 = .026 for Step 2; for girls: R2=.281 for Step 1, DR2 = .155 for Step 2.
For boys: R2 = .467 for Step 1, DR2 = .112 for Step 2; for girls: R2 = .411 for Step 1, DR2 = .008 for Step 2.
For boys: R2 = .262 for Step 1, DR2 = .091 for Step 2; for girls: R2 = .248 for Step 1; DR2 = .062 for Step 2.
p < .001.
p < .005.
p < .05.
22
I. Vekiri / Computers & Education 55 (2010) 16–23
5. Discussion
The findings of the study confirmed the hypothesis that student perceptions of teacher expectations, teacher instructional practices and
parental support are related to student motivational beliefs about ICT(s). As expected, perceived teacher expectations were positively associated with students’ beliefs about their computer competence. Also, student perceptions of learning activities as creative and personally
relevant was a significant predictor of intrinsic value beliefs (interest) in girls and of value beliefs in boys. Finally, perceived parental support was related to both value and efficacy beliefs. Unlike previous research, the findings of this study did not support the conclusion that
boys have more positive ICT self-efficacy and value beliefs than girls. The study indicated, however, that boys’ and girls’ beliefs are differentially affected by parents, teachers, and school IS instruction. Specifically, perceived teacher expectations was more significant for girls’
than it was for boys’ efficacy, while the opposite was true regarding perceived parental support. Also, perceptions of IS instruction was
more important predictor of boys’ than of girls’ ICT intrinsic value beliefs.
ICTs are integrated into many aspects of every day life and most young people develop competencies and beliefs about ICTs before they
beginning studying computing at school (Mumtaz, 2001; Vekiri & Chronaki, 2008). The findings of the study show that, despite the powerful
role of parents and home ICT use in the development of student attitudes and beliefs, teachers can influence student interest and ability perceptions through their pedagogical practices and the expectations they communicate. According to the findings of this study, teachers are
likely to enhance student interest in computing as a discipline if they utilise learner-centered approaches, possibly because the latter are more
compatible with young people’s everyday experiences with ICTs. Students’ out of school ICT activities are characterized by exploration, control, choice, variety, and challenge (Facer, Sutherland, Furlong, & Furlong, 2001; Mumtaz, 2001; Pedró, 2007). Students engage in tasks that are
relevant to their everyday world and important for the accomplishment of their personal goals (Facer et al., 2001). They use ICTs in the context
of social activities and as means to communicate and make new acquaintances (Pedró, 2007). While traditional instruction creates a dissonance between home and school computer learning (Mumtaz, 2001), student-centered, exploratory learning approaches can capitalize on students’ early home experiences to help them improve their ICT skills and deepen their understanding of computing.
A significant finding of the study is that student-centered approaches to information science instruction are motivating for both boys
and girls. Data analysis showed that boys and girls who were taught by the same teacher provided similar ratings of classroom instruction,
which indicates that they agreed on the extend to which instruction gave them opportunities to be creative and was relevant to their personal interests and everyday life. However, although positive perceptions of instruction were associated with positive beliefs about the
value of ICTs in boys, in girls it was only associated with interest in ICTs. This indicates that using student-centered teaching approaches
may have a positive impact on girls’ enjoyment and interest in computers but may not affect their perceptions of the importance and usefulness of computing, which are likely influenced by other psychological processes. As the work of Eccles and her colleagues has shown
(Eccles, 1994), beliefs about the importance and usefulness of particular activities (attainment and utility beliefs, respectively) are related
to student long-term plans and personal values. One important gender difference is that girls value people- and society-oriented activities
and occupations while males show preference for ‘‘thing”-oriented tasks (Josefowicz, Barber, & Eccles, 1993). The stereotyped view that IT
professions involve menial tasks that have no relevance to everyday life and offer no opportunities for human interaction, which is held by
many young people (Clarke & Teague, 1996; Papastergiou, 2008), is inconsistent with girls’ personal values. Therefore, it appears that
changing girls’ beliefs about the importance and personal usefulness of ICTs may require other types of instructional interventions which
would directly target stereotypes about the nature of information science as a discipline and misconceptions about the variety and characteristics of IT professions.
Of interest was also the finding that perceived teacher expectations was more strongly associated with girls’ than with boys’ self-efficacy beliefs. One possible interpretation of this finding is that girls rely more on information provided by their teachers than from their
parents to form an opinion about their computer abilities, while parents are more important socializers for boys. This in turn could happen
due to gender differences in computer experiences outside the school context. Research shows that, compared to girls, boys have more
opportunities outside school to become involved in ICT activities and to experience success with ICTs (Barker & Aspray, 2006; Vekiri &
Chronaki, 2008; Volman & van Eck, 2001), and therefore they may rely more on their parents for information regarding their ICT competence. If, on the other hand, school provides the main context where many girls can develop advanced computer skills, then the teacher
becomes an important source of efficacy information.
The above stress the necessity for future research to examine the effects of teacher behavior and instructional practices on boys’ and
girls’ ICT beliefs. The correlational design of the study does not permit conclusions of causality between the predictors and the outcome
variables or about the direction of a causality. This limitation could be overcome with longitudinal research examining changes in students’
beliefs over time which could be attributed to changes in the learning environment and to teacher practices. There is also a need to study
other aspects of classroom instruction, such as the extend to which learning tasks are connected to other academic subjects or demonstrate
the practical applications of information science to various professions and everyday problems, and to explore their relationship with different components of students’ value beliefs.
The findings of the present study are not consistent with previous research showing that female students perceived gender stereotyped
views (Shashaani, 1993) and discrimination (Singh, 1993) in their teachers’ behavior. Based on their responses, boys and girls perceived
similar teacher expectations. Only in one teacher group perceived teacher expectations were higher in boys compared to girls. However,
given the observed magnitude of the relationship between perceived teacher expectations and female students’ self-efficacy, it is important
in future studies to examine how teachers communicate expectations and personal beliefs about gender issues to the students as well as
the long-term effects of teacher expectations and beliefs on student self-efficacy beliefs and academic choices. Future research needs to
focus both on practices that may reproduce gender inequalities as well as on pedagogical approaches that can provide boys and girls with
equal access to positive ICT experiences and learning opportunities.
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