Qualitative Analysis Of Computer And Book Attitude Education Essay


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The study focussed on the attitudes held towards computers and books. Books and computers are media's which can be used in similar arenas for example both can be used for studying. Therefore it is worth researching the attitude towards it to decide which one is preferred if not both. To research a questionnaire with opened questions where used, grounded theory was used to analyse the data and come up with a theory to explain the attitude towards books and computers. Main finding showed that attitude towards computers and books where even, and mostly positive.


Computers are an integral part of life and dominate many sectors such as; business and education. The constant presence of computers gives people a great exposure to the new technology. Literature such as Bozionelos (2001, as cited in Garland & Noyes, 2005) suggests that an increase in exposure to the new technology causes the attitude towards computers to change in a more positive direction. Huang and Liaw (2005) articulate that use of the new technology is depended on the attitude one has towards it. This is further supported by Ajzen and Fishbein (1977) who say that attitudes are great predictors of human behaviour. So the question remains that with an increase in computer exposure, is the move away from paper based information well warranted. In other words does the use of computers mean that the use of books diminishes? Is this of benefit to the students?

Findings suggest that individuals feel that they would learn less from computers than compared to books (Rogers, Regehr, Yeh, & Howdieshell, 1998, as cited in Noyes & Garland, 2005). An explanation given was that the technology was affiliated more with entertainment purposes and so would not be associated with material for academic purposes. Suggesting that books are preferred when it comes to learning. This could be due to the aesthetic properties associated with books such as; the feel of a book, the portability of it, the smell of it etc. Muter, Latremouille, Treurnite, and Beam (1982, as cited in Noyes & Garland, 2005) found that participants preferred to read novels from books and not from video. However the findings were misleading in that the participants believed that they could not return to previous page which was not the case.

Garland and Noyes (2005) found that contrary to previous literate, which expected people's attitude to be more favourable towards books than computers, people were as favourable to both. The change in favourability could be explained by exposure level but also due to the portability and aesthetic properties of books now being present in computers. For instance computers are more portable in the form of laptops, netbooks, and notebooks. Also they can be used for entertainment purposes such as the use of the internet for shopping, novel methods of socialising for example facebook (www.facebook.com) or msn (www.msn.com) or hotmail (www.hotmail.com). Which connects you to a global population.

Previous research suggest that the rationale for this study is that the attitudes towards these media's would be influenced by exposure towards computers, as well as the preference of use of books in academia, and preference of computers as a entertainment technology.


Theoretical background

A two section questionnaire was administered the first section focussed on quantitave analysis of book and computer attitude. The second section consisted of two open ended question's which were "what do computers mean to you? Their value and use, convenience (lack of), social impact." Followed by the second question "what do books mean to you? Their value and use, convenience (lack of), social impact."(see appendix A) Grounded theory was used to analyse the qualitative data. This type of analysis allows the theory to materialize from the data so that future research can further explore the theory initially presented. The grounded theory consists of an "iterative process" (Hayes,2000) in which themes are defined from the data and concepts are established to explain the phenomena.


A total of 10 2nd year psychology students from University of Leicester participated in this questionnaire as part of their course requirement. The 1 male and 9 female had an age range of 19-27 years (M= 21.1, SD= 3.408). Participants were randomly chosen amongst 2nd year psychology students from University of Leicester. Participants have owned a computer for years ranging 7-17 years (M= 11.33, SD= 3.464). Work or university use of the computer range is 2-25 hours a week ( M= 9.56, SD= 7.618). Personal use of the computer range is 5-30 hours a week ( M= 14.11, SD= 8.852). (see Appendix B)


A Questionnaire was used which was part of another questionnaire which was focusing on a quantitative analysis of computer and book attitude. The focus is the final section which consisted of two open-ended questions. (see Appendix A)


Participants were made aware of their right to withdraw and were asked to sign a consent form. After which a questionnaire was administered and participants were asked to be as honest as possible and to take their time.


Participants were fully made aware of the aims of the questionnaire and were told about their right to withdraw. After which they were asked to sign a consent form. After the questionnaire was completed participants were debriefed. The topic being investigated is not a sensitive topic which would offend. Study complied with British Psychology Society's required ethical guidelines.

Analytic strategy

The data set A was first analysed. Analyses were done line by line, and emerging themes have been used to define concepts and categories. These where then used to produce a theory. After the development of a theory, theoretical sampling was carried out which produced data set B. Data set B was then coded to see if the themes and categories discovered in set A were present here.


Participants answered the data from a user perspective and stated how the two media's had an effect on them as an individual and as a society. In so the chosen core category is user impact. This is then further divided into five sub categories. (for quotes and memo see Appendix C,D,E,F & G)

The first of which is Type of use, this refers to the arena's these media's are used as part of daily life. Hence the further division of this category into 3 minor categories which are; professional, academia, and finally personnel use. Computers are present in work places in that "bankers use computers, business use them" (Text6, Line4&5) and the use of computers develops the user and the "skills can be used in a job" (T3, L6). Both books and computers have been associated with academia. Computers have been said that they "can make learning much more efficient and productive" (T8, L5&6), books are said to be "useful learning tools" (T6, L13). Books are also commended on their historic importance which has an academic purpose in that they "can also be useful to keep historic records" (T6, L13) for example "the Bible" (T4, L12). This is an attribute which has not been associated to computers. Computers are attributed to be more accommodating for personnel use then books, books have been associated with entertainment purpose in that "people still like to read books for pleasure"(T2.L12) and "you can relax with a book"(T5,L11&12) computers are an "effective way to enjoy yourself as they have many games and videos (YouTube etc)" (T6,L6&7).Computers are said to be an aid to chores "makes our lives much easier" (T3, L2),as " shopping can be done online" (T3, L4&5).

Followed by social impact as a sub category, this is further divided into two minor categories which are pro and anti social. The two media provide a dichotomy in socialization techniques. With books there is the old fashioned socialising in that "books create more opportunities for socialisation. E.g. book clubs." (T3, L14&15). Whereas computers are the novel method of socializing in that "they keep people in contact"(T7, L3&4), they are a "great tool for communication (facebook, msn etc)" (T6,L1&2) and they "make keeping in touch with people across the planet an easy task" (T7,L2&3). Both of the dichotomies are a sub division of pro-social category, the anti social category applies to computers only in that "people are too dependent" (T1, L5) on computers and "takes over their entire life"(T10,L6). Computer "reduce social interaction" (T10,L1), "until they never go outside or talk to another human being" (T10, L6&7) "reducing physical activities" (T5, L7&8), reducing creativity "generally doing things to stimulate the mind"(T5,L9)

The third sub category is Aesthetics; it is of no surprise that the ergonomics of the media will affect the attitude towards it "I love the way they smell and feel" (T10,L8&9). This sub category is twofold. There is the portability of the media. With books you can "travel anywhere with them" (T1,L13&14) also it "can be read anywhere"(T3,L13) and "also you can read books in the bath". Second there is the storage ability of the media's. Books can "take up space" (T7,L8) yet "can be kept"(T7,L7), so it is space consuming yet it space conservation.

Fourthly is worth "books represent the investment of much time, effort and love on the part of their authors" (T10,L13&14), this is divided into two minor groups which I have considered to be an influence of the worth of information received and effort put in. first there is accessibility, books are thought to be more accessible then computers books have "easy accessibility"(T1,L12) and "accessible at any time" (T9,L12)this further divided into convenient and inconvenient. Computers are said by some to be "not convenient as your stuck on a chair for ages" (T1,L3) this participant has also said that they are "dangerous they hold most of your personal information and can be hacked into"(T1,L7&8) so the inconvenience could also be caused by a lack of trust in the technology. However others say that "computers are very convenient"(T5,L1) no explanation was given as to why this could be due to that they are "designed awful"(T1,L9)but are said to be "worth a lot to society"(T4,L1). Books are said to be "less convenient than computers" (T3,L10). Convenience and inconvenience has been linked to the requirement of the search. Computers are associated more with easy search "quick reference" (T2,L2), "find things within few minutes" (T2,L4). Books are said to be more difficult to search "takes ages to search for relevant information" (T7,L9). Second there is information value which has been further divided into date and quantity. "information can be out of date" (T7,L8) in a book but "information contained can be detailed and specific"(T3,L12) whereas a "I am able to access up to date information online that may not yet be available from books"(T9,L5,6&7).Quantity is divided into absorb information as books are said to be "easier to absorb information"(T1,L10&11), and understand, as books are "often easy to understand" (T5,L13).However computers are said to be easy to "type out information neatly and Clearly" (T5,L5).

The final sub category was reliability; this has been simply divided into reliable and unreliable. Books are in retrospect more reliable as "the battery on a laptop runs out" (T4,L4). Hence computers are unreliable and also computers are "dangerous they hold most of your personal information and can be hacked into"(T1,L7&8).

A five question semi structured interview was carried out to further investigate the topic. (see Appendix H)

Discussion and Reflexivity

The topic under scrutiny is the attitude held towards the two media which are computers and books. The data collected shows that both are considered in many categories together. In type of use the computer is found to be welcomed in arena's previously dominated by books such as banks. Previous research expected books to be more of a dominant chose when compared to computers (Rogers, Regehr, Yeh, & Howdieshell, 1998, as cited in Noyes & Garland, 2005), other research said that the preference between the two media's was equal (Garland & Noyes, 2005) the data agrees more with the later.

This could be due to several reasons one of which is exposure level as all the participants had been exposed for several years to computers, if this is the explanation then it is in support with Bozionelos (2001, as cited in Garland & Noyes, 2005). However in certain categories computer and books are presented in opposing dichotomies. Such categories as pro-social, in which computers are considered to be technology for an innovative method of communication, this refers to the fact that computers allow you as a user to communicate to a global population through for example facebook (www.facebook.com), and books are still considered to be using the old fashioned method of interacting with others.

This might explain why books are considered to not be a anti-social media whereas computers are. Since with books there are opportunities for interaction, especially the type the participants considered to be important which was face to face contact, which can be done through books clubs.

However although the novel method of communication provided by computers is considered to be valuable, in that it allows communication with a global population, its also considered to be inconvenient because it makes the user stay in one position at all times. This then reduces physical activities which are considered to be anti-social. This was one of the reasons why books where considered to be better then computers because they are portable. The issue's users have with computers seems to stem from user ergonomics more than anything else. However the ergonomics with computer system has been developed significantly over the past few years. In that besides desktops there are laptops which allow for portability of the technology, and the lack of face to face contact has been addressed with the availability of web camera's. However participants have not mentioned any of this. An explanation could be that the wording of the questionnaire limits the participant to consider this. As books of any type would still be considered a book, however a computer would most likely prompt the thought of desktop rather than laptops. The type of computers one participant considers might not be the same as another participants. Since different computers come with different features as well as software.

As a Researcher I would say that the core category could have been influenced by me. As a computer user for 9 years, I would say through experience with the media's my attitude would be more favourable towards computers for entertainment and towards books for academic use.

The data however does support Noyes and Garland (2005) in that the media are equally appreciated so it gives the study validity. Hence the data could be transferred to others. The data shows that there is a great need to be specific when carrying out future research. In that the media's in question come in different forms and types. The study does indicate that the use of computers is as important as the use of books. So for future research the focus besides being specific should be focussed on the context the user likes to use the media. In other words when and where the user likes to use a book and a computer.

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