Computer Anxiety Among Virginia Cooperative Extension Field Personnel

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Virginia Tech

Extension professionals must have easy access to and knowledge of emerging technologies to deliver programs more efficiently and effectively. With the increasing use of computer technology comes an increasing number of individuals who have computer anxiety. This study examined selected variables as predictors of computer anxiety. Data were collected from 402 Virginia Cooperative Extension field personnel. The personnel included Agricultural and Natural Resources agents, Family and Consumer Sciences agents, 4-H agents, technicians, and secretaries. A modified version of Oetting's 1983 Computer Anxiety Scale (COMPAS) was used to determine the computer anxiety levels. For this instrument, an internal consistency reliability of Cronbach's alpha r = .95 resulted from this study. The survey results were analyzed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS). The overall mean score for the respondents to this study was 101.68, on a 200 point scale, which was interpreted using the COMPAS manual to indicate that only 20% of the Virginia Cooperative Extension personnel were "anxious" or "very anxious." Regression analysis indicated that time per day using a computer, years with Extension, and age were the significant variables related to anxiety. Increased computer use reduced but did not entirely eliminate computer anxiety.

A profile of a respondent who was relaxed about computer use included being age 20 to 29, a secretary, and using a computer more than two hours per day. A person anxious about computer use was middle aged (40 and over), a technician, and used the computer less than two hours per day. The results indicated that the more a respondent used the computer per day the less anxious they were. A large number of personnel used the computer to compile and produce educational material and to communicate with colleagues.

The Virginia Cooperative Extension administration should direct their attention regarding computer training to respondents who are 40 years of age and older and are technicians. To reduce computer anxiety, personnel should be provided with in-service training emphasizing computer applications.

Additional research could identify why technicians have higher levels of computer anxiety. Further study could identify other variables that may be related to computer anxiety.

Extension, Computer Anxiety, COMPAS