The development and validation of a hierarchical computer literacy curriculum for secondary schools

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


A computer literacy curriculum was developed and validated in this study. A literature survey was conducted; this supported the need for a systematically developed computer literacy curriculum for secondary school students. Five specific competencies of computer literacy were identified: Computer Components, History of Computers, Flowcharting, Programming, and Computer Awareness. Terminal behavioral objectives were defined for the five areas and were task analyzed. The resulting objectives were developed into a complete hierarchically arranged curriculum which was submitted to four reviewers for formative evaluation. After the review, the curriculum was revised and a learning program was written containing learning activities for each objective in the curriculum which was field tested by eight students at the Community School, Hollins, Virginia. This setting was selected because a computer terminal was accessible and the school agreed to cooperate with the project. During the learning program, the students were tested on each objective and at the end of ten weeks a summative test was given, Observational data concerning the learning activities, the test questions, and the implementation procedure were recorded by each student and the teacher during the program.

The results from the learning program were compiled and the data analyzed by three validation procedures and a descriptive analysis. The three validation procedures were the Guttman (1944) scaling procedure, the Gagne (1961) proportion of positive transfer, and the Walbesser (1971) transfer measures. The Guttman procedure demonstrated the validity of 10 of the 15 hypothesized sequences with coefficients of reproducibility equal to .875 or above. The Gagne' validation procedure validated 43 of the 50 transfer hypotheses at the .90 level or with a ratio that deviated from 1.00 by only one incorrect pass-fail pattern. Walbesser's transfer measures of adequacy, consistency, and completeness indicated that 23 of the 50 proposed transfer hypotheses were valid. Of the 50 transfer hypotheses, 19 were confirmed by both the Gagné and Walbesser methods. The Gagné and Guttman validation procedures confirmed all of the transfer hypotheses between the five units of the computer literacy curriculum. Walbesser's procedure indicated that five of the eight transfer hypotheses between the units were valid. The data generated by the study were subjected to a set of decision making rules developed for this study and resulted in the development of a validated computer literacy curriculum appropriate for secondary school students.