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Farrell Article Review2

Farrell Article Review2

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Published by: bfarrell11 on Jul 11, 2011
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07/16/2013

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A Critique of Miller et al.A Critique of Miller et al.Brian FarrellUniversity of British Columbia1
 
A Critique of Miller et al.Leslie M. Miller, Heidi Schweingruber and Christine L. Brandenburg haveattempted to study the perceived divide between middle school aged boys and girls andtheir acceptance of computer technology. The study authors conducted a brief review of some relevant literature to their research and then embarked upon a fairly extensivesurvey of middle school aged children from across a spectrum of socio-economic classes.Through a discussion of prior studies, the authors contend that most males viewtechnology as an open-ended and fun activity, whereas females view technology as astructured tool used to accomplish specific goals. The authors were thorough indeveloping a wide respondent pool of some 568 students, which would later translate intoa final analysis of 512 students, and constructed a series of surveys to pose to their studysubjects. Miller et al. delineated students in their survey by socio-economic class usingthe number of free or subsidized school lunches at each school in their study. Thesurveys developed incorporated several different question types that attempted todetermine the level of students’ computer ability and the various contributing factors thatcreated variances in the level of students’ acceptance of computer technologies. Thestudy authors found that the perceived gap between boys and girls with regard totechnology has narrowed significantly to the point of no longer being relevant.While I found the research data obtained in this study to be largely valid, I dohave some concerns with some of the methods that the study authors followed. Much of the research cited in the introductory discussion of this article is ten or fifteen years oldand from a period when computer technologies were quite new, and the idea of ahousehold computer was very novel. Indeed, this period of research is also one wherewomen and girls were fighting to establish larger societal equalities and so perceptions in2
 
A Critique of Miller et al.these cited studies may be skewed.The survey conducted by Miller, Schweingruber, and Brandenburg does appear to be well formulated, and was constructed to reflect findings for a good variety of respondents, accounting for socio-economic factors and deliberately attempting tocompile a sample that is broad in its scope. It is interesting to note though that the surveyitself was reliant on students using paper and pencil for its completion. Many computer tools are now available to conduct survey research, and this reinforces the idea thattechnology evolves at such a pace that findings from even a few years prior quickly become irrelevant or invalid.I did find some of the researchers' questions troubling in their wording, as theythemselves admit to using quite broad terms that may hold different implications for eachrespondent. I would have preferred the researchers to use more focused and definitiveterms to allow for greater conviction in responses.When identifying the divide between students who have internet access at home,the researchers focused exclusively on the divide (or lack thereof) between boys andgirls, and make no mention of the divide between students of different socio-economicstatus. Only later in their research do the authors acknowledge that their surveyrespondents reported a level of home internet access that was almost double that of a previous survey reported in the same year, which lead me to question the credibility of the research data. This becomes especially troubling when the researchers focus much of their later discussion around this same previous study, that of the Kaiser FamilyFoundation. While this previous report may have been a valuable focus for the researchauthors, I would have liked to have seen them engage in a larger discussion that included3

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