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Children and computers: The effect of gender, peer interactions, and educational software on performance and attitude

, Arizona State University, United States

Arizona State University . Awarded


Computer literacy and competence are essential for effective adaptation to the challenges of the next century. Some populations, however, have fewer opportunities to learn these necessary skills. Among the various inequalities of access and competence, one of the most notable is the apparent difference between girls and boys. In attempting to identify the sources of these apparent differences and inequalities and to devise means for reducing the gaps, some investigators have focused on the influence of peer interactions. By observing children function under different conditions of gender pairing, it is possible to examine the influence of gender pairing on children's attitude and performance on the computer. This study examines the influence of gender pairing and the nature of educational software on boys' and girls' computer attitudes, feelings of competence, and performance. The researcher assessed children's performance and attitudes through interviews, observations, and computer scores. The participants who completed all phases of the study number 93 fourth graders and 41 fifth graders from two elementary schools. Each child engaged in three computer sessions followed by an interview. Children worked with a same-gender partner one session and a different-gender partner another session. Half of the children who participated utilized drill and practice software and the other half exploratory software.

The results indicated few significant differences in performance scores. The observation data, however, implied reliable variations in interaction styles between the gender-paired groups. The boys were more likely to be exploratory, and engage in insulting and interrupting behavior, while girls were more likely to be supportive, to be talkative, and to ask their peers for help. Based on the interview, both boys and girls enjoyed a variety of software, but more boys preferred action/adventure and violent games, while more girls preferred creative and writing types of software. In choosing a partner, most boys and girls said that the gender of the partner was unimportant in regards to interest in computers, computer competence, a partner that is easier to work with, and a partner with whom more work gets done. Nevertheless, they said that generally children will choose a same-gender partner.


Deutscher, R.R. Children and computers: The effect of gender, peer interactions, and educational software on performance and attitude. Ph.D. thesis, Arizona State University. Retrieved August 4, 2021 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

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