Critical analysis

Publication

Victoria Ratliff M. (2009). Are College Students Prepared for a Technology-Rich Learning Environment? Journal of Educational Systems5(4), 1-5. doi:10.2190/et.39.1.b

Purpose of study

The journal article by Victoria Ratliff reviews the nature of technology readiness for students at rural community college in South-eastern region of US and proposes the duty of higher education in assessing the capabilities of new students before expecting performance in the technology savvy environment. The encounter with technology begins at preschool with children browsing for games and the teenagers getting in touch with friends online. While it can be observed that college freshmen today are more tech-savvy, it is equally astonishing that they perform poorly in computer classes. It is, therefore, clear that the students are proficient in technology but not on academic grounds. The students have expertise in doing tweets, social networking, and chatting and, for this reason, they make poor or are incapacitated to communicate with their professors via email as they commonly use slang, acronyms, and no standard formatting.

It is common practice to consider students ready to join colleges only on the basis that they went through high school or successfully completed the General Education Development (GED). The reality though is that such plans are not sufficient to prepare future college students. As pointed out by the author sufficient college readiness is a reflection of prerequisite knowledge as well as skills, in particular, areas.  A critical component defining comprehensive definition is the ability to use key technological tools in academics. The methodology adopted in this study is on assessing performance for business students who were reportedly exposed to computer technology prior to college, and it found that 64% of the test scores were below 60% for pre-instruction tests. The technological researchers thereby conclude that the students are incapacitated to undertake the degree courses unless fed with informational concepts as well as a technological guideline.

Hypothesis:

Hypothesis 1 (H1)- it is a common perception among teachers that students have prior computer knowledge due to the exposure on the internet.

Hypothesis 2 (H2)- a student’s expectation of college life is actually different from the real experiences.

Hypothesis 3 (H3)- students with technology-exposed social lives are less adequately prepared for a technology learning environment.

Methodology

The methodology adopted in this study is on assessing performance for business students who were reportedly exposed to computer technology prior to college, and it found that 64% of the test scores were below 60% for pre-instruction tests. The technological researchers thereby conclude that the students are incapacitated to undertake the degree courses unless fed with informational concepts as well as technological guidelines. The sampling method was adopted in this case where a sample size of 182 participants of which 177 participants were a high school senior and 5 were the adult. From this study, when population size is larger, it is useful to collect data from a sample of the population to save time and cost. To ensure the validity and reliable of the data, it is important that selected sample is unbiased and represent a larger population. However, research does not indicate the sampling strategy and rationale for choosing a specific set of students. It does not indicate on the privacy and right protection for the participants and how participant’s confidentiality was assured.

Dependent variables

Sociological orientation- the world today has a misconception immersed upon students that students have prior knowledge of technology, and hence educators think they are adequately prepared to perform in academics.

Independent variables

Computer basics- this was tested using different abilities to create, saving and finding files from different directories.

Student success- this is the ultimate goal for all students.

Analysis

According to a survey study for the first-year college at Colorado University by Seel and Cullen, professors must not assume that students have knowledge of the basic information and basic information that defines technology skills. The adequately prepared students exemplify better college performance as compared to those deficient in skills for this environment. It is difficult for students to develop the desired skills unless they are subjected to explicit guidelines. It is, therefore, the duty of the particular faculty to remediate its students for technology use even before providing the desired instructions for the specific subject.

The assessment involved a sample of 172 students to undertake a pilot study, and the mean score hence was 83.73%. It is though recommended to use a bigger sample especially where there is a large population as a very small sample does not fully accommodate the different interests. Ensuring that the data is duly valid and reliable is essential is a crucial exercise so to eliminate biases hence a wholesome representation. The questionnaire was used to indicate how internal and external reliability was managed.

Results

In the review of these demographics, it is revealed that the students are approximately 4300 whereby more than half of them are registered for distance learning. The college students have access to 23 computer labs where there are diverse technologies put in place including smart boards, video conferencing, wireless internet access and media presentation systems. The college through the assigned email uses the BlackBoard management system for online and hybrid course management. A faculty survey for freshmen was conducted in which basic skills performed included computer basics, ms-office application, and the internet basics. By so doing the faculty makes a basis for developing the readiness assessment instrument.

The enclosed table highlights technology readiness score amongst the participants and descriptive statics were availed to highlight the result of the data collected and analyzed. The study review gives an explanation of the background of the students in terms of the interaction and ability to use the technology for the academic purpose.

Conclusion

To underline the importance of the study, it is ethical to allow students to have step by step procedures of having the students get into the learning systems. Mostly students are assessed on reading writing, and mathematical skills but little is done for actual life preparation. We are therefore ending up with students who cannot type a simple essay on word processing, little educational tools for success and thereby resulting in a general attrition and failure. The author holds the opinion that colleges have become ignorant of the key elements defining a student’s success.

Strengths

Having technology ready students will help in reducing the available time for delivering course content.  Ideal models and theories must be incorporated into the curriculum in the proposition of building or addressing the expectation for the skills gap. However, the article is paramount in defining and deriving the concept within a range of technology communication software and their relevance concerning academic concepts.

Limitations

The study has used a limited literature framework in defining, examining and evaluating the problem and hence a limited perspective development. Furthermore, the literature is only based on empirical studies without any theories or models that analyze variables and their relationship.

Directions for future research

More research is needed in this field to determine long-term factors that will define a student’s success in this day and age of technology. With a students’ assessment scorecard, academic advisors are obliged to give proper guidance for the academic planning while ensuring that low scoring students get enrolled in remedial classes.

Final opinion

From this study, it is a fact that many institutions of higher learning have become ignorant of fundamental elements of a student’s success. For this reason it is the duty of colleges to not only focus on the three Rs, that is, readiness, reading and writing but rather take a broad perspective of technology readiness for their students.