Digital Apprehension (DA), Problem Solving (PS) and Expected Transition (ET) - the DAPSET

Year: 2016

Author: Smith, Heather, Kelly, Nick

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The rise in the use of technology within academia enables students to use technology for communication, assessment, and research to complete their courses. However, not all students have equal access, ability, or competence with technology, and therefore, it is necessary to support students who may struggle. There is cause for concern that the relationship between students and technology creates an unnecessary barrier to learning and/or effective participation. While new digital tools are freely available to support and encourage those entering university, to many, these digital tools can be challenging and may induce apprehension, especially among first year students. Particularly, as many students now attending university are from diverse backgrounds and lower socio-economic strata. For these reasons, a contemporary measure has been created to examine the presence and prevalence of digital apprehension in an Australian regional university. This research project consisted of three phases, and this paper reports on the final phase. This project created a concept called digital apprehension, as well as an instrument to measure this new phenomenon. The digital apprehension instrument reflects participants’ digital apprehension, problem-solving, and expected transition (DAPSET). This is a 48-item self-report psychometric instrument, consisting of three questionnaires. The Digital Apprehension questionnaire (DAq) consists of 9 items, the Problem-solving questionnaire (PSq) consists of 12 items and the Expected Transition questionnaire (ETq) consists of 27 items. The first phase was qualitative (N = 30), and involved focus groups and individual interviews, and examined the presence of the concept of digital apprehension; the second phase was quantitative (N = 766), and surveyed first year students, with the pilot questionnaire. The third phase was also quantitative (N = 1407) and examined the prevalence of digital apprehension in all of university (not just first year) students with the completed DAPSET psychometric instrument. The DAPSET showed good internal reliability with α = .85, and the full model of DAPSET with all the predictors was statistically significant, χ2 (9) = 157.31, p < .001, indicating that the model was able to determine those participants with digital apprehension. Overall the DAPSET instrument revealed 40% of participants (N = 1407) reported digital apprehension; participants approximately 33 years of age or more, were more susceptible to digital apprehension; more females (42%) experience digital apprehension than males (35%) males; and older participants experienced digital apprehension more than younger respondents, however, this was more prevalent in females than males. The newly created DAPSET instrument has the ability to reveal areas where people are experiencing digital apprehension, and therefore give support if needed. With two out of every five participants experiencing digital apprehension, this opens an area for further research, not only in the educational sector, but also the workplace or corporate sector, wherever technology is used.