One hundred and eighty one students participated in the study (Response rate – 95.3%). Males were 49.7% (n = 90). Forty two percent (n = 76) were from Colombo district and 52.5% (n = 95) were from Western province. Majority of the students (n = 140, 77.3%) owned a computer, there was no significant gender difference observed in computer ownership (Males – 74.4%, Females – 80.2%). The students mostly owned only desktop computers (n = 129, 71.3%), while only a minority (n = 16, 8.8%) of students had both laptop and desktop computers (Table
). The students have gained their present computer knowledge by either engaging in formal training programme (n = 116, 64.1%), self learning (n = 114, 63.0%) or by peer learning (n = 89, 49.2%). A significant majority of male students have gained their knowledge by peer learning (p < 0.001) (Table
). However, only 38.1% (n = 69) of the students have taken up IT as a subject at school level. The students that have engaged in formal computer training programmes have mainly completed training programmes on computer applications (n = 108, 59.7%), while only a minority has trained on computer hardware (n = 41, 22.7%), computer programming (n = 40, 22.1%) and web designing (n = 32, 17.7%). There was no significant gender difference in the selection of formal computer training programmes (Table
Computer ownership, knowledge and exposure to training of students
The students used computers for predominately; word processing (n = 173, 95.6%), entertainment (n = 172, 95.0%), web browsing (n = 145, 80.1%) and preparing presentations (n = 139, 76.8%). Only a few students have used computers more advanced functions such as computer assisted learning (n = 40, 22.1%), computer programming (n = 45, 24.9%) and database management (n = 73, 40.3%). Most of the students were using internet facilities (n = 127, 70.7%), which was mainly accessed from their own residences (n = 83, 45.9%). Only 5 students (2.8%) used internet facilities that were freely available at the faculty. The frequency of internet access varied between students; most accessed 2–3 hours per week (n = 51, 40.2%), followed by rarely (n = 34, 26.8%), 2–3 h per month (n = 25, 19.7%) and 2–3 h per day (n = 17, 13.4%). One hundred and fifteen students had their own e-mail address (63.5%), of which 57.6% (n = 68) checked emails at least once a week.
Majority of the students (n = 137, 75.7%) expressed their willingness for a formal computer training programme at the faculty (Males – 74.4%, Females – 76.9%). The students mostly preferred to be trained by either a computer trainer (n = 68, 49.6%) or peers (n = 40, 29.2%) (Table
). There was no significant gender difference in this preference. They preferred to be trained on using the internet (n = 114, 83.2%), computer statistics (n = 100, (73.0%), making presentations (n = 73, 53.3%) and word processing (n = 48, 35.0%). A significant majority of females (90.0%) expressed willingness for training in using internet than males (76.1%) (Table
). Eighty three students (60.6%) wanted the formal training programmed to be scheduled prior to the commencement of faculty teaching activities (Table
The needs of students that preferred a formal IT training programme at faculty
The mean score of students out of hundred for the computer literacy section of the questionnaire was 48.4 ± 20.3. There was no significant gender difference in the mean scores (Males – 47.8 ± 21.1, Females – 48.9 ± 19.6). Most student (37.6%) were in the category of high (score 50-69%) computer literacy (Figure
). However, 47.9% of students had a score less than 50% for the computer literacy questionnaire. There were 14.4% students having a very-high computer literacy (score > =70%). There was no significant gender difference observed in the categories of computer literacy (Figure
). Students from Colombo district (54.2 ± 19.8) had a significantly higher mean score in comparison to students from other districts (44.2 ± 19.8) (p < 0.001). However, this difference was not observed between males from Colombo district (49.9 ± 22.7) and other districts (46.8 ± 20.4) (p-NS). Students residing in Western province (54.9 ± 18.5) had a higher mean score than those residing in other provinces (41.1 ± 19.8) (p < 0.001). In both genders the difference in mean score between the provinces was significant. Students owning a computer had a higher mean score (50.9 ± 18.9) compared to others (39.5 ± 22.4) (p < 0.001). In addition, students who have gained their present computer knowledge from a formal training course (56.7 ± 16.7) also had a significantly higher mean score than other (33.6 ± 17.7) (p < 0.001). However there was no statistically significant difference observed between score of those who have said that they have gained their knowledge from self-learning or by peer-learning.
The students’ score range for the computer literacy questionnaire.
The linear regression model explained 55.6% of the variance in score for computer literacy (R2 = 0.556). The analysis of variance revealed that the final model was significant (F17, 2431 = 12.002, p < 0.001). In all students, undergoing a formal computer training course was the strongest predictor of computer literacy score (β = 13.034, p <0.001), followed by Using internet facility (β = 12.984, p < 0.001), being from Western province (β = 11.744, p < 0.001), using computers for Web browsing (β = 8.041, p < 0.01) and computer programming (β = 8.592, p < 0.001), ownership of a computer (β = 4.609, p < 0.01) and doing IT as a subject in GCE (A/L) examination (β = 4.261, p < 0.05) (Table
). Being from Colombo district and gender were not significant predictors of computer literacy score (Table
Results of the linear regression analysis