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A Survey of First-Year University Students' Ability to use Spreadsheets

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Abstract

Universities are using more information and communication technologies (ICT) in their teaching and learning environments. An anonymous multiple-choice survey self-assessed the spreadsheet skills of students enrolled in …rst-year units at the beginning of 2003. The results of the survey indicate signi…cant de…ciencies in the use of spreadsheets. There is a signi…cant proportion of students who are unable to use spreadsheets as part of their education at the start of their university studies. The implications for tertiary education are discussed.
... In order to integrate technology successfully into the teaching and learning of mathematics, it is essential to understand the notion of technology, pedagogy, and content knowledge (TPACK) proposed by Koehler and Mishra [9]; how to sequence the content with the integration of spreadsheet into it by using (CLT) [4]; and the understanding of (TAM) [6] in the adoption of technology into teaching and learning mathematics; as well as the status and level of spreadsheet use by undergraduates [12]. ...
... A lot of people assume that undergraduates are becoming more computer literate. The results of the survey done by Lim [12] and Treadwell et al. [21] indicated that there is a significant deficiency in the use of spreadsheets. There are a significant proportion of students who are unable to use spreadsheets when they enroll in their universities. ...
... From the literature review, it was found that spreadsheet skills are needed in future workplace of business graduates but the present usage is low [10,12]. It is timely that it should be integrated into the teaching and learning of Financial Mathematics, not solely because it is a useful utility tool; more importantly it is a pedagogical tool that will enhance the teaching and learning of Financial Mathematics. ...
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In this paper, we will formulate a conceptual framework to integrate spreadsheet into the teaching and learning of Financial Mathematics. A sample of 85 undergraduates taking Quantitative Techniques took part in this study. They were taught Financial Mathematics through the traditional approach in the previous trimester. A pre-test was carried out to find out their performance level. Later, they were exposed to spreadsheet approach on the same topic and a post-test was administered to assess their performance. Post-test results showed significant improvement. A survey was carried out at the same time to determine their perceptions on (i) ease of spreadsheet use, (ii) the use of spreadsheet template, (iii) awareness of the importance of spreadsheet, (iv) the urgency in learning spreadsheet and (v) the best way to integrate spreadsheet into learning of Financial Mathematics from the students' viewpoints. A conceptual model of implementing the integration of spreadsheet into the teaching and learning of Financial Mathematics is also proposed.
... In order to integrate technology successfully into the teaching and learning of mathematics, it is essential to understand the notion of technology, pedagogy, and content knowledge (TPACK) model put forward by Koehler and Mishra [7]; how to sequence the content with the integration of spreadsheet into it (CLT) [4]; and the understanding of TAM [5] in the adoption of technology into teaching and learning mathematics; as well as the status of spreadsheet use by undergraduates [9]. ...
... A lot of people assume that undergraduates are becoming more computer literate; the results of the survey done by Lim [9] indicated that there is a significant deficiency in the use of spreadsheets. There are a significant proportion of students who are unable to use spreadsheets when they enroll in their universities. ...
... From the literature review, it was found that spreadsheet skills are needed in future workplace of business graduates but the present usage is low [8,9]. It is timely that it should be integrated into the teaching and learning of Financial Mathematics, not solely because it is a useful utility tool. ...
Conference Paper
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In this paper, we will study the technological integration approach of teaching and learning Financial Mathematics. A sample of 85 undergraduates taking Quantitative Techniques took part in this study. They were taught in Financial Mathematics through the traditional approach in the previous trimester. Pre-test was carried out to find out their performance. Later, they were exposed to spreadsheet approach on the same topic. Then a post-test was administered to assess their performance. Post-test results show significant improvement. A survey was carried out at the same time to determine their perceptions on (i) ease of use in spreadsheet, (ii) the use of spreadsheet template, (iii) awareness on the importance of spreadsheet, and (iv) the urgency in learning spreadsheet. Finally a conceptual model of implementing the integration of spreadsheet into the teaching and learning of Financial Mathematics is proposed.
... Several issues make digital competency problematic and variable between different student groups. For example, (1) "digital divide" issues for students from poorer suburbs and neighbourhoods, regions or countries [4,5,8,30]; (2) differences between arts and science students' comfort with digital technology use and perceptions of mathematics difficulty [20,23,26,34]; (3) gender bias, gender preference, or exclusion [15,28,32]; or (4) for many current students, digital familiarity is substantially limited to social media such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter. ...
... I have identified one Australian journal having an article that does refer to Bachelor of Arts: Lawson and Matos in 2000 [20]. Lim's 2005 study is a rare example of a study of disciplinary differences that included BA/Arts students [23], finding that: ...
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An individually assessed exercise used a spreadsheet as a simple organising tool to investigate refereed journal literature about communities in an undergraduate third-year sociology class. The spreadsheet exercise has proved to be a revelation in the responses of students being asked to undertake the assignment valued at fifteen per cent of total grade. This reaction to the teaching exercise has been consistent across several years the class has run, notwithstanding refinements from student feedback and other adjustments to achieve the pedagogical intention of the instructor. The article describes how the exercise challenges students to identify, list and organize the wealth of journal literature sources available in the intersecting academic fields studying communities, so they can later draw on this material in their main research assignment for the subject. Underlying assumptions of the teaching exercise include the belief that some minimal spreadsheet competence is today necessary for any professional, managerial or administrative workforce role, regardless of training domain in science, social science or humanities.
... The spreadsheet is a general-purpose tool with which we may reasonably expect that almost all upper secondary and tertiary students are nowadays at least somewhat familiar 4 . All is not rosy however, and Lim has recently written about the situation in Australia [25]. 2. Ubiquity. ...
Chapter
This paper discusses how fundamentals of number theory, such as unique prime factorization and greatest common divisor can be made accessible to secondary (and even middle) school students through spreadsheets. In addition, the three basic multiplicative functions of number theory are defined and illustrated through a spreadsheet environment. Primes are defined simply as those natural numbers with just two divisors. One focus of the paper is to show the ease with which spreadsheets can be used to introduce students to some basics of elementary number theory. Complete instructions are given to build a spreadsheet to enable the user to input a positive integer, either with a slider or manually, and see the prime decomposition. The spreadsheet environment allows students to observe patterns, gain structural insight, form and test conjectures, and solve problems in elementary number theory.
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In this study we examine the familiarization of students with the basic functions for formula insertion in a general-purpose spreadsheet software. Two teaching interventions and two respective follow-up tests were conducted to 124 students of Educational Sciences, with little prior experience in the use of spreadsheets. Through the data collected (test results, registration forms for the students to record any difficulties they had during the tests, video captures of the interactions of the students with the software during the tests) the errors the students made and also any attempts to correct these errors were identified. Our findings indicated that the software error messages and the unexpected results were the main events that prompted the students to recognize their errors.
Conference Paper
It is well understood that university graduates, regardless of discipline, must have appropriate information and communication technology (ICT) competencies to function and be employable in the modern world. Nevertheless, the results of surveys indicate significant deficiencies in the use of ICT by students of higher education. e-kpaidefteite.gr is an initiative launched by the Greek government that aims to train and certify students of higher education on ICT. This paper presents the results of two separate surveys that took place during the period December 2008 - January 2009. The first survey targeted the students that have completed the programme and the second one the educational providers that participated in the programme and offered the training to the beneficiaries. KeywordsNational action-training-students-ICT
Conference Paper
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The aim of our research project called DidaTab - Didactics of Spreadsheets - is to get a more comprehensive picture of ICT uses in French schools and to obtain a better knowledge of students' spreadsheet competencies. The exploratory study of curricula and practices shows very sparse use during secondary education. To achieve a more precise estimation of what students can do with spreadsheets, we identified detailed competencies and designed com- puter performance tasks to serve as a basis for tests. The analysis of the results of a few groups indicates that in most cases students' knowledge and skills are rather low. A deeper investigation of students' work shows close links between lack of confidence with spreadsheets and lack of knowledge in mathematics and informatics.
Article
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The DidaTab project (Didactics of Spreadsheet, teaching and learning spreadsheets) is a three year project (2005-2007) funded by the French Ministry of Research and dedicated to the study of personal and classroom uses of spreadsheets in the French context, focussing on the processes of appropriation and uses by secondary school students. In this paper, we present an overview of the project, briefly report the studies performed in the framework of the DidaTab project, and give the main results we obtained. We then explore the new research tracks we intend to develop, more in connection with EuSpRIG. Our main result is that the use of spreadsheet during secondary education (grade 6 to 12) is rather sparse for school work (and even more seldom at home) and that student competencies are weak. Curricula have to be reviewed to include more training of dynamics tabular tools (including databases queries) in order to ensure sufficient mastery of computer tools that have became necessary in many educational activities.
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