Girls' perceptions of secondary school specialist computer courses: A case study
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Teaching and Learning
This research project investigated girls' perceptions of specialist computer courses in secondary schools. Literature both international and in New Zealand indicate a dwindling number of females pursuing study and careers in ICT. This project identified some of the factors influencing girls' choices to take computer courses; their perceptions on computer careers and the implications for teachers and schools. The research was based on a collective case study with embedded cases. Data was collected from a survey using a mind map and questionnaire, as well as semi-structured face-to-face interviews. A descriptive narrative derived from the interviews with five of the participants is presented as well as cross case analysis for more than five participants. Overall the students' accounts revealed complex, inter-related and disparate data regarding their perceptions of computing. The data revealed confusion with language and terminology; a perception of variance in levels of knowledge and abilities in specific courses; stereotypical perceptions of computing; and differences in experience, relevance and choices within the computing context. The study highlights issues related to the association of computing with science and mathematics; girls' perceptions of the relevance and content of computer courses; genderrelated issues with computing; apparent lack of knowledge of computer careers and how schools label and describe their computer courses. It also puts forward some implications for schools and suggests some actions that schools could take as a starting point to try and break down some of the stereotypes and myths that seem to be discouraging girls into specialist computer courses.