This paper assesses the impact of computer based research activities on attitudes of students in an introductory sociology course at Ball State University toward sociology and toward course activities. Special emphasis is placed on attitude differences when research activities are incorporated on a voluntary or required basis. The objective is to provide insight into one aspect (i.e., student attitudes based on various types of experience with computer research) of the role of computer based technology in the shift in teaching methods in colleges and universities in the United States from lecture and textbook approaches to approaches based on more active student participation. The method involved surveying students regarding their attitudes toward having small research group meetings once a week instead of four lectures per week. Findings indicated that student attitudes toward computer research activities were more closely related to whether there was a choice about participating in the activities than they were to the activities themselves. Specifically, findings indicated that negative attitudes emerged when research activities were mandatory for the entire sociology class or for a selected group of students and that positive attitudes resulted when students participated in the activities by choice. Further, students in the mandatory research group found the computer activities difficult, indicated a high degree of anxiety about the course, disliked sociology, and recommended that research activities involving computers be dropped. The conclusion is that students will master computer skills more easily and react more positively toward computer based research activities when they are given the option of whether to participate in such activities. (DB)
Johnson, W.S. & Morris, D.C. The Effects of Computer Oriented Student Research.