Reshaping computer literacy teaching in higher education

Estelle Taylor (North‐West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa)
Roelien Goede (North‐West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa)
Tjaart Steyn (North‐West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa)

Interactive Technology and Smart Education

ISSN: 1741-5659

Publication date: 19 April 2011



Acquiring computer skills is more important today than ever before, especially in a developing country. Teaching of computer skills, however, has to adapt to new technology. This paper aims to model factors influencing the success of the learning of computer literacy by means of an e‐learning environment. The research question for this paper is: what is the relationship between the success of the teaching of computer literacy and factors such as mother tongue, the learner's favourite subject, secondary school, race, future vision, confidence, computer anxiety, prior knowledge, intellectual ability, learning styles, the learner's ability to plan and follow his or her own planning and gender?


The research plan combined interpretive and positivistic methods (mixed method research). Factors were identified from literature and interpretive interviews before being tested empirically and analyzed statistically, using questionnaires and biographical data from learners at a university in South Africa.


The outcome of this research is a model representing critical success factors. According to the study, the learners' results in their final school year made the biggest contribution to the success, a factor which is followed by their prior knowledge of computers, gender, future vision of computer use, computer anxiety and preference for mathematical subjects.

Research limitations/implications

The sample used in this study was not representative of the national race and language distribution of South Africa, since it was done at an Afrikaans university with fewer learners of the majority race groups. It would be interesting to conduct a similar study using a more representative group for comparison purposes.


The study aims to be more holistic in terms of total student experience of the module. Specific success factors were interpretively (qualitatively) identified before being measured using positivistic (quantitative) techniques. This is in contrast to similar studies where researchers used positivistic techniques to identified specific factors to verify. The method followed demonstrates the value of mixed method research by understanding the experience of specific students and then measuring the factors for the entire group of 2,500 students. The resulting model can be used to improve aspects of the module to increase the value of the module in context of the academic programme of the student.



Taylor, E., Goede, R. and Steyn, T. (2011), "Reshaping computer literacy teaching in higher education", Interactive Technology and Smart Education, Vol. 8 No. 1, pp. 28-38.

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Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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