The Use of Computers by Elementary School Principals

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Virginia Tech

This was an investigation of the use of computers by elementary school principals. The independent variables were socio-demographic characteristics, attitude toward computers, and beliefs about the outcomes of computer applications. The dependent variables were hardware and software proficiency, administrative proficiency, instructional proficiency, and overall proficiency.

A random sample of 400 elementary school principals in the United States and the District of Columbia was drawn from a national database developed by Quality Education Data. The sample had 228 females and 172 males. Data were collected with a questionnaire that was mailed to the sample. Two hundred fifty-three questionnaires were returned. One survey was blank and unusable.

Data were analyzed with correlation coefficients, t-tests, and one-way analyses of variance followed by Scheffé's post-hoc comparisons. Exploratory analyses with chi-square tests were used to determine if a profile of "high tech" elementary principals could be identified.

Elementary principals used the computer on a daily basis for a variety of administrative and instructional tasks. The more proficient users had more favorable attitudes toward the use of computers, used the Internet more frequently and for more tasks, and believed that computers made a difference in the time spent on and the quality of their work. Formal training was related to all four types of proficiency.

Socio-demographic variables not associated with proficiency in using computers were gender, ownership of a home computer, ethnicity, age, years of administrative experience, and highest degree held. Males and females, minorities and whites, and older and younger principals were equally proficient. Years of experience and degree did not distinguish more proficient from less proficient users.

A socio-demographic profile of "high tech" principals was not found; however, "high tech" principals (personal digital assistant users) reported higher levels of Internet use, higher levels of all four types of proficiency at alpha = .10, and a more favorable attitude toward computers. The use of the latest technologies by principals appears to be a good predictor of the proficiency of principals in using technology generally.

Elementary School Principals, Proficiency, Administration, Attitudes, Instruction, Computers