The myth of computer-savy kids

The Chronicle of Higher Education carried an interesting item recently describing a study by North Carolina Central University. Researchers there found that most students overestimated their computer skill levels at completing certain tasks.

The tasks in question were on the relatively ordinary programs: Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint. Though 75% of students thought they had a high skill level in Word, these students could perform only five out of the 10 moderately difficult tasks, like doing word counts or justifying paragraphs, and none of the advanced tasks, which included copying and pasting items from the clipboard, according to the study.

The study said students had the worst perception of their skill at using Microsoft Excel. About 69% thought they had at least an average skill level, but could not perform most of the basic, moderate, or advanced tasks, which included actions that ranged from from copying cells to creating formulas.

Also interesting, the "advanced" Excel tasks they are talking about here don't seem to include writing even simple Visual Basic routines.

The whole item can be found here, and the comments by educators who have experienced this mythology themselves is also interesting:

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