Girls' Engagement with Computers While Creating Web Pages During Middle Childhood

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Virginia Tech

The purpose of the research study was to describe girls' engagement with computers during middle childhood and to delineate the factors that initiated and sustained the engagement. The research questions were: 1) What patterns distinguish how girls engage in web page development during middle childhood? 2) What roles do environmental and personal factors play in the girls' engagement in the activity of web page development? 3) What are the perceived reasons for the girls' achievement in creating web pages?

The research design followed a qualitative case study approach with descriptive methods of data collection. Four participants were selected through nomination by their elementary school principal based on their computer attitude and aptitude. The data collected included interviews, observations, artifacts, and interviewer's reflective notes. The data were analyzed through coding assisted by NUD*IST computer software. Overall, the access to computers, the relationships with powerful others, and the girls' perceptions of their ability to control influential factors, all worked together as antecedents for engagement with computers. The roles performed and the necessary social interaction sustained the engagement. The product, an educational web page, demonstrated successful achievement. The researcher provided recommendations for educators to create conditions for girls to achieve using computers, which impacts middle childhood girls' perceptions of future career options.

middle childhood, computers, motivation