Evaluation of first year university students' digital apprehension, problem-solving appraisal, and transition to higher education

PhD Thesis

Lindsey-Smith, Heather. 2017. Evaluation of first year university students' digital apprehension, problem-solving appraisal, and transition to higher education. PhD Thesis Doctor of Philosophy. University of Southern Queensland. https://doi.org/10.26192/5c075998baf88

Evaluation of first year university students' digital apprehension, problem-solving appraisal, and transition to higher education

TypePhD Thesis
AuthorLindsey-Smith, Heather
SupervisorQuinn, Andrea
Machin, Tony
Kelly, Nick
Hendry, Liam
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameDoctor of Philosophy
Number of Pages212
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.26192/5c075998baf88

This research was designed to discover the presence and prevalence of a new concept Digital Apprehension in first year higher education students. The first year is seen as the year students begin their undergraduate degree at a tertiary institution (higher education). Higher education (university) in the current age of technological advances, has adopted communications technologies as they become available, leading to innovations in the way that tertiary education is delivered. University study requires students to confidently use different types of technology to complete their courses. However, students’ desire to interact with technology is often underpinned by their understanding and experience of technology, and this experience is not equal for all. Some students may feel apprehension around the use of digital technology (Digital Apprehension) and this can negatively affect their studies. Digital Apprehension has, as its foundation, the psychological literature into learning and motivation. The presence and prevalence of Digital Apprehension was explored, using the newly created psychometric instrument measuring Digital Apprehension, problem-solving appraisal, and transition expectations (DAPSET), also examining if it was a unique first year phenomenon or university wide.

There were three phases to the project, the first phase was qualitative, the next two phases were quantitative. The qualitative aspect of the project enabled a deeper, richer understanding of students’ thoughts and experiences, while the quantitative examined and confirmed reliability of the findings. The first phase of the project involved thematic analyses of transcribed answers to the focus group questions, individual interview questions and written answers via email (N = 30), to understand the concept of Digital Apprehension (DA) and create the questionnaire. The second phase involved an initial survey (N = 766) comprised of 54 items, including the DA, a short problem-solving appraisal questionnaire (PSI-12), and an expected transition questionnaire (the Student Transition Scale - Revised - Adapted; STS-R-A). This phase then created the final measure, the DAPSET psychometric instrument. The third phase (N = 1407) used the DAPSET, and indicated that Digital Apprehension was experienced by 36% of students in their first year, and 40% across the University. Digital Apprehension can become a catalyst for a downward spiral, and be involved in the lack of insight, capability, and resourcefulness. The ability this measure brings to recognise Digital Apprehension would help the recognition of those struggling, and therefore enable crucial support before difficulties occur.

Keywordsdigital apprehension; higher education
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020460806. Human-computer interaction
390303. Higher education
Byline AffiliationsSchool of Psychology and Counselling
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