Assessing the Computer Literacy of University Graduates

Assessing the Computer Literacy of University Graduates Serkan Dincer Cukurova University Adana, Turkey Abstract. Computer literacy is the level of k...
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Assessing the Computer Literacy of University Graduates Serkan Dincer Cukurova University Adana, Turkey

Abstract. Computer literacy is the level of knowledge and skill regarding effective use of computer and technologies for individuals’ aims. However, the use purposes of computer could change from person to person. Therefore, there is not an explicit standard regarding the computer literacy levels. Yet, there is a common view for basic computer literacy levels. Although, there conducted studies concerning computer use in many fields, very limited number of studies related to computer literacy levels could be reached. For instance, while the qualities of adults are being questioned generally they are supposed to be literate of computer but there is no assessment regarding this situation. In this regard, it is crucial to analyze the computer literacies of university graduates. Starting from this emphasis, this study aimed to identify the computer literacy levels of the individuals graduated from the university. 525 graduates from various departments participated in the study. According to the results of analyses conducted, their basic computer literacy levels were founded to be low. Keywords: computer literacy, evaluation, ICT literacy



Literacy is the leading skill among the skills providing the individuals’ effective participation in social life and increasing their life quality (Gul, 2007). Through literature, literacy concept has confronted us with many definitions until today. This diversity arises from the development of literacy teaching approach due to the variety of changing conditions and needs (Gunes, 1994). Firstly, while the literate individual was defined as “rewrite the written signs comprehending them”, the definition was changed by UNESCO (2006) as “the individual could read and write a simple and short sentence regarding daily life understanding it”. Lastly, this description was stated in World Conference on Education for All in 1990 as “Every person should utilize from the education opportunities designed for meeting his/her own fundamental learning needs. These needs include sustaining both fundamental learning tools (such as reading, writing, verbal lecture, numeral operations and problem solving) and people’s existence, developing their capacities to the end, living and working with honor, participating in progress in every sense, enhancing the living standards, making informed decisions and the content of basic instruction they need for maintaining learning (WCEFA, 1990). The general literacy concept described above started to be defined not only text literacy but in various ways such as digital, cultural, visual, ecological, information

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and computer literacy based on advancements (Korkmaz & Mahiroglu, 2009; Murray, 2008; Sulun, Gorecek & Celik, 2007; Wecker, Kohnlet, & Fischer, 2007). Even though the literacy concept in every field is continuously updated, the definition regarding the information and communication technology (ICT) literacy (Zylka, Christoph, Kroehne, Hartig, & Goldhammer, 2015) is too general. Computer literacy is generally defined within the literature as “computer using skill” (Korkmaz & Mahiroglu, 2009); “The ability of controlling computers and programs to achieve various goals” (Lee & So, 2013; Zylka, Mueller, & Martins, 2011); “the ability to use computer to get information, communicate and problem solving” (Akkoyunlu, 1996). Tasai (2002), Dominick, Friedman, and Hoffman-Goetz (2009), Poynton (2005) broadened the definition from literacy skills in traditional means to embrace mass media and computer literacy. Additionally, computer literacy is identified as the attitudes, skills and knowledge individuals need to be able to be hand in glove with computer technologies through their daily lives. Taylor, Goede, and Steyn (2011) stated “computer literacy includes users’ dealing with several works in their daily lives with ability to use applications such as Word, Excel, Internet Explorer”. Moreover, some researchers defined computer literacy as “a component of digital literacy identified as ability for comprehending graphic, picture or moving figures on a screen” (Elkins, 2010); in addition to this ability also “the ability for finding information using computer and web and analyzing this information” (Ryan & Capra, 2001). Although many studies in various fields were carried out regarding computer literacy confronted at almost everywhere, as there is not any accredited assessment tool in order to determine this literacy, the studies for determining the computer literacy are also rarely found within literature (Christoph, Goldhammer, Zylka, & Hartig, 2015; Gabriel, 1985; Isaac 2015; Kay,1993; McMillan, 1996). World Economic Forum (2011) overemphasizing the computer literacy stressed the importance of computer literacy with a statement as “the economic growth of a country depends on qualified labor and it is necessary that the university graduates are literate of technology for this labor to be used in 2020”. On the basis of this emphasis, determining the computer literacy levels of individuals graduated from university constituted the purpose of this study. In the direction of this aim, the answers were sought to the questions below:  How do university graduates define their computer literacy levels?  What are the basic computer literacy levels of university graduates?  What is the relationship between university graduate individuals’ definitions for their computer literacy levels and their basic computer literacy levels?  Do the computer literacy levels of university graduates differ in terms of individuals’ gender?



This study was conducted using descriptive survey model. Studies with descriptive survey model; are studies aiming to collect data for determining specific characteristics of a group. According to Karasar (2010) general survey model is the

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survey arrangements carried out on the population itself or the sample got out of it in order to make a judgement regarding the population having a great number of people. 2.1


Within the study, the participants were 343 graduates and 284 adults (will be graduates in a short span of time) would be graduated soon from different departments (departments not in relation with computer directly or indirectly) of universities in Turkey. Through the study, the participants close to graduation were also accepted as graduates. The aim of this was to broaden the participant group. In order not to adversely effect the reliability of the study, each variable was compared for both graduates and participants close to graduation, it was determined that there is no significant difference between groups regarding the variables. With this evaluation stated in the findings, it was ensured that all participants’ being accepted as graduates would not effect the reliability of the study. As the data gathered from 102 of 627 participants were not completed or at extreme values, they were excluded from the main data set. In consequence, 525 individuals ranging in age from 20 to 45 participated in the study. Women adults constituted the 67.80% (n=356) of the participants while the 32.20 % (n=169) of them were men. In addition, the 37.50 % (n=197) of participants were graduates while the rest 62.50 % (n=328) of them were the adults would graduate in three months. The detailed descriptive statistics regarding the participants were presented on Table 1. Table 1.

Descriptive statistics regarding the participants.

Graduated Participants close to graduation Total


f % f % f %

Women 138 26.30 218 41.50 356 67.80

Men 59 11.20 110 21.00 169 32.20

Total 197 37.50 328 62.50 525 100.00

Data Collection Instrument

In the study, the data was collected with Computer Knowledge Test and Personal Information Form. Computer Knowledge Test was developed by the researcher in order to determine the basic computer literacy level. Test consisted of four different choices and 20 items. Test examined basic operating system (Ms. Windows™) processes. After the test prepared, it was applied to a group ranging in age from 11 to 13, newly learned the basic operating system and it was restructured. With the analysis and editing, the assessment instrument determining basic computer literacy levels with the medium level difficulty was structured (difficulty level = .66, KR-20 =.75).

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In addition to Computer Knowledge Level, in order to identify the demographic information of participants Personal Information Form was used as a second data collection instrument. Data regarding the participants’ age, gender, department, graduation status, time and aim of computer was collected through Personal Information Form. Moreover, it was asked to participants to classify their computer literacy levels from very low to very high (very low, low, medium, high, very high) via this form. 2.3

Data Analysis

Through the analyses of data, basically frequency-percentage distributions, averages were used. Because the distributions were not normal, non-parametric tests were used. Additionally, in order to analyze the correlations between the variables Spearman’s Rho Coefficient and for differences between the groups Chi-Square and KruskalWallis Test were used.



The participants were initially asked how they defined their computer literacy levels, a great majority of participants (n=322, 61.30%) stated their computer literacy at “medium level”. Besides, it was found out that 5.10 % of the participants (n=27) identified their computer literacy level as “very low”, while 3.80% of them (n=20) stated their levels as “very high”. With the aim of clarifying the indications of participants regarding their computer literacy levels, these indications’ distributions according to gender are presented on Table 2. Table 2. gender.

The indications regarding the computer literacy levels of participants according to

Women Men Total

Very Low n % 21 5.90 6 3.60 27 5.10

Low n % 52 14.60 17 10.10 69 13.10

Medium n % 229 64.30 93 55.00 322 61.30

High n % 49 13.80 38 22.50 87 16.60

Very High n % 5 1.40 15 8.90 20 3.80

As seen on Table 2, it was observed that most of both women and men participants remarked their computer literacy levels at medium level. However, it drew the attention that women participants (n=83; 20.50%) indicated their computer literacy levels as low or very low more than men participants (n=23; 13.70%). In order to determine if the difference at a significant level, Chi-Square Test and Spearman’s Rho Coefficient were applied and at the result of this analysis there found significant correlation between gender and computer literacy indication ( ( , ) =26.70, p=.00; ρ=.18, p=.00).

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In order not to effect the reliability of the study because of defining the participants close to graduation as graduates, whether there was significant difference between the graduation status and computer literacy level indications was analyzed and there was not found any significant correlation between these two variables ( ( , ) =.01, p=.09). As a result of knowledge test applied to identify the participants’ basic computer literacy levels, it was found that participants got scores between 40.00-100.00 score interval ( =76.45, sd=13.12). For the detailed investigation of scores participants got, the distributions related to scores were assessed, the frequencies regarding these distributions were shown on Table 3. Table 3.

The distribution of participants’ Computer Knowledge Test in terms of


40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95 100

n 4 5 8 16 29 36 46 42 48 63 39 17 3

Women % 1.12 1.40 2.24 4.49 8.15 10.11 12.92 11.79 13.48 17.70 11.00 4.78 .84

n 1 2 6 4 10 12 8 23 26 22 30 13 12

Men % .59 1.18 3.55 2.37 5.91 7.10 4.73 13.61 15.38 13.02 17.75 7.69 7.10

n 5 7 14 20 39 48 54 65 74 85 69 30 15

Total % .95 1.33 2.67 3.81 7.43 9.14 10.29 12.38 14.10 16.19 13.14 5.71 2.86

When Table 3 was looked through, it was found out that the basic computer literacy levels of men graduates of university ( =79.29, sd=13.63), were higher than women’s basic computer literacy levels ( =75.10, sd=12.67). As a result of the analyses conducted to see whether there were any significant differences between the computer literacy levels regarding gender, it was understood that there was significant difference between the participants’ gender and basic computer literacy levels (U = 24244.50, p = .00). As stated before, the computer literacy levels of graduates and adults close to graduation were compared in terms of reliability of the study and there weren’t found any significant differences between the two groups (U = 32004.40, p=.86). The correlation between the participants’ scores from Computer Knowledge Test and computer literacy levels they stated was analyzed, there found a significant but low correlation between these two variables (ρ=.32, p=.00). In order to provide this correlation make sense the scores of participants got from knowledge test and their stated computer literacy levels were compared and the findings were presented on Table 4.

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Frequency distribution of participants’ scores from computer knowledge test and their computer literacy levels.

Table 4.

40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95 100

Very Low f % 1 3.70 1 3.70 3 11.11 2 7.40 4 14.81 3 11.11 4 14.81 4 14.81 1 3.70 3 11.81 1 3.70 0 .00 0 .00

f 1 0 6 5 5 12 8 9 6 10 6 1 0

Low % 1.45 .00 8.70 7.25 7.25 17.39 11.59 13.04 8.70 14.49 8.70 1.45 .00

Medium f % 2 .62 5 1.55 3 .93 10 3.11 26 8.07 30 9.32 35 10.87 43 13.35 51 15.84 57 17.70 43 13.35 14 4.35 3 .93

f 0 1 1 2 3 3 7 9 11 13 15 13 9

High % .00 1.15 1.15 2.30 3.45 3.45 8.05 10.34 12.64 14.94 17.24 14.94 10.34

Very High f % 1 5.00 0 .00 1 5.00 1 5.00 1 5.00 0 .00 0 .00 0 .00 5 25.00 2 10.00 4 20.00 2 10.00 3 15.00

As seen on Table 4, it was determined that participants stated their computer literacy levels as high or very high generally got scores at the interval they mentioned and there was not a significant correlation between their scores and knowledge level they stated (ρ=.04, p=.71, n=108). However, it was detected though there was a significant correlation between the levels stated and the scores of participants stated their level of knowledge under this level, this correlation is very low (ρ=.22, p=.00, n=418). Besides, as shown on Table 4 (white background) at each classification 25.91 %, 24.64%, 40.06%, 32.18% and 25.00% of participants got scores at a right interval. Even though not among the aims of the study, in order to support the study’s results, the durations for daily use of computer were investigated and it was put forward men ( =3.06, sd=2.67) use computer much more than women ( =2.66, sd=2.06) though there were not any significant differences in terms of gender (U=28655.00, p=.37).



The study aimed to reveal the computer literacy levels of university graduates. In this respect, university graduates or the students close to graduation participated in this study. The inclusion of data from students not graduated could be criticized. Yet, through the findings part, the two variables were compared for both groups for the reliability of the study and there weren’t found any significant differences between these groups regarding any variables. Hence, it was considered that it would not be a problem to define all participants as graduates. The first sub-goal was to examine the graduates’ indications of their own computer literacy levels. In line with this purpose, it was found out that most of them identified themselves as computer literates at medium-level. However, they were not asked what they understand from the standards being computer literates at medium level. It is

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thought to be beneficial to accept this situation as the restrictions of the study. When the participants’ identifications were analyzed in terms of gender, it stood out that women participants identified their computer literacy levels lower compared to men’s. Men’s use of computer more is a factor directly increasing their computer literacy. This finding is also supported by many studies (Christoph et al., 2015; Mattheos, Schittek, Nattestad, Shanley, & Attstrom, 2005; Mobasheri, & Sharifi, 2012; SpicerSutton, J., Lampley, J., & Good, 2014) through the literature. It was aimed to identify the basic computer literacy levels of participants with Computer Knowledge Test as well as their own indications for their computer literacy levels. At first step, the findings showed the participants’ computer literacy levels were at medium-level. Yet, test aimed to measure the basic computer knowledge and was prepared for individuals first-time users of computer. Therefore, the participants were expected to got very high scores. That very few of the participants got high scores despite this expectation was the most important finding of the study. In parallel with this finding, the comment made was “computer literacy levels of individuals graduated from university were low”. Here the application of a test prepared for younger ages to adults is a point could be criticized. However, when the nature of literacy concept is examined, it is essential to improve literacy levels not up to age but individuals’ knowledge and skill levels. At this point, the phenomenon to be dealt with should be “what is computer literacy?” or “what are the computer literacy levels?”. It is thought that the answers for these questions are not clear. The computer literacy standards’ being unclear is considered to make individuals’ indicating their computer literacy levels difficult. This idea is also supported by studies’ findings. For instance, analyzing the correlation between the indications of participants regarding their computer literacy levels and their computer literacy levels, it was seen that most of the participants could no define their levels. It is thought that this is also due to the lack of general computer literacy level standards. That is, the knowledge-skill a basic computer literate should possess and the knowledge-skill an advanced level computer literate should have are not known. This situation is a restriction mentioned in many studies (Dincer, Kutlar, Kaleci, & Kiran, 2012; Easton, Easton, & Addo, 2011; Perez, J., Murray, & Myers, 2007). So, it is considered as necessary to form computer literacy standard and develop tests convenient for these standards. Regarding the analysis of correlation between graduates’ computer literacy levels and gender as the last sub-goal of the study, the result was that men participants were more successful than women. This matches up with the indications of participants related to their computer literacy levels as well. When the studies within literature (Christoph et al., 2015; Mattheos, et al., 2005; Mobasheri, & Sharifi, 2012; Sainz, & Eccles, 2012; Spicer et al. 2014) were analyzed, it was seen that similar results were reached in nearly every study, men were more successful than women in terms of computer use. Although it was observed that there were not any significant differences for computer using time in terms of gender, it is thought that computer using success is related with men’s computer using frequency. In respect with the finding, one of the critics could be made is thought to be participants’ being only from Turkey. Yet, both this study and the studies (Dincer, 2011; Dincer & Sahinkayasi, 2011; Hamissi, Gholami, & Hamissi, 2013) in various countries have similar findings. The results’ being similar is supporting the former comment.

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As a result of the study, it was revealed that the computer literacy levels of individuals graduated from university were low and men users’ computer literacy levels were higher that women’s. Even though many individuals identified themselves as computer literates, it was understood that this literacy level stayed at basic knowledge-skill level. It was revealed that the difference between participants’ identifications and their real levels based on the lack of standards regarding computer literacy levels, both the individual using internet or social account and the individual could program was accepted as computer literate. Consequently, computer literacy is a significant concept and it is necessary that all university graduates are computer literates. Yet, it is needed to determine computer literacy standards for different departments, different business lines. Starting from this necessity, it is recommended to form computer literacy standards, prepare instruction plans for these fields and developing exams suitable for these standards. However, because computer does not include only cognitive skills but also psychomotor skills, it is suggested to prepare the exams for not only measure knowledge but also include the skill tests which are more practical.



This research was supported by Cukurova University Department of Scientific Research Project.

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