Computer anxiety and intrinsic motivation to learn among beginning computer users
Gillon, Stephen John
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This study examined computer anxiety and motivation to learn in a computer class, using Csikszentmihalyi's Flow Theory, and Heinssen, Glass and Knight's Computer Anxiety Rating Scale (CARS), to explore the root causes of computer anxiety, and to determine anxiety's relationship to the motivation students have to participate in training. The study considered whether computer anxiety was more appropriately a form of trait anxiety, similar to Spielberger's State/Trait Anxiety, or a transitory state of anxiety independent of personality traits. The researcher assessed initial computer anxiety using the CARS, then sampled students' experience in the computer course during every class period using Csikszentmihalyi's Experience Sampling Form. Possible changes in computer anxiety were measured by mid-semester and end of semester administrations of the CARS, and regression analysis of the incidence of the Flow States. Achievement was measured by course grade, then correlated with incidence of the Flow States, and with pre-course CARS score. Csikszentmihalyi's conceptualization described the anxious state actually experienced in the computer laboratory class. The measurement of trait type of anxiety had no correlation with the students' actual experience of anxiety in the course. It was also determined that Csikszentmihalyi's Flow Theory described the psychological states of the students, and the relationship between students' motivation and their experience of anxiety. There was no correlation between the measurement of the students' trait type computer anxiety and their performance in the classroom, but the students' performance was significantly correlated with both the incidence of the Flow state and the Anxiety state. Student interviews complemented the data collection, and provided additional insight into the interactions between the students, their computers, and the computer laboratory environment. The researcher discussed the theoretical implications of the study, which demonstrated the validity of Csikszentmihalyi's Flow Theory, demonstrated the distinction between state and trait anxiety, and added to the growing body of research concerning Flow Theory. The researcher also discussed implications for educational practice, including careful pre-course screening, attention to intermediate educational objectives, and greater student control over the pace of learning.
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