School of Education

Centre for Research in Educational Futures and Innovation

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Sue Bennett- 2008

Loving and hating my computer: are students' relationships with computers defined by gender alone?

This research aims to explore the relationships that young people have with the computers that they use for school, with particular focus on whether the school location of the students or their gender appear to be linked to the ways that they use computers and their attitudes towards them.

The project is part of larger project which explores issues of gender equity and identity in coeducational school settings. Focus groups ave been held with secondary students from three Melbourne Independent schools. Two of the schools have programs requiring each student to have their own laptop computer to use in class and at home, while the third school has chosen to provide generous access to compute resources on campus, with computers in each classroom and additional computers in a number of shared spaces. Interest in computers has been repeatedly attributed to boys more than girls (American Association of University Women, 19999, Collins, Kenway & McLeod, 2000, Littleton, 1996, Selfe, 1999) and the question of what factors influence this gender gap and whether it is being maintained, is shrinking or even growing continues to be the focus of on-going research.

The focus groups explored students' use of their computers and their attitudes towards them. There were a number of questions guiding this exploration:

  • How do these students use computers?
  • Which aspects of their schoolwork do they use them for?
  • Do they use them for recreation?
  • Do they use them for socializing?
  • Did the different structural arrangements in the three schools regarding the place of computers result in the students using the computers differently and having different attitudes towards them? Were gender differences evident in students use of computers and their attitudes towards them?

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25th July 2008