Academic technology confidence levels vs ability in first-year traditional and non-traditional undergraduates

Michelle Eichelberger, Bonnie Imler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine the technology confidence, skills, and post-skills-test emotions in traditional (younger than 24 years old) and non-traditional (24 and older) first-year college students at three undergraduate campuses in the Northeastern USA. Design/methodology/approach: Totally, 39 college freshmen from three college campuses were recruited for the study. An online test environment and screen recording software were used to measure student proficiency in using PDFs, Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint, Microsoft Excel, Gmail, and Windows. Data were collected in September 2013. Findings: The majority of the students struggled with at least one facet of academic software. Traditional students were more confident than non-traditional students in their technology skills, but they did not score any higher on the skills test. Students who placed at the high end and low end of the test results curve most accurately assessed their technology skills, and their post-test feelings were the most appropriate in light of their test results. A large percentage of the traditional aged students were overconfident about their skills and self-identified as “happy” or “wonderful” even after performing poorly on the test. Originality/value: Having concrete data about student technology skills, rather than anecdotal data from Reference Desk interactions, can help librarians design improved instruction and tutorials that target areas of student technology weakness. In addition, there have been no studies that examine student immediate emotional response to test performance in this type of testing environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)468-479
Number of pages12
JournalLibrary Hi Tech
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Information Systems
  • Library and Information Sciences


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