Help Needed For Research Project

The project is spearheaded by Dr. Arne Weigold, our very own German-to-English translator. You’ve likely read an article he translated if you regularly read our reviews. Arne’s a college professor at Notre Dame College of Ohio for his day job, where he conducts research on computer use, and his findings have been published in scientific journals. He’s developing a questionnaire to measure computer self-efficacy, or people’s belief that they know about and are able to work effectively with computers. This isn’t marketing research or for any company; nobody will make any money from it. It’s just so that researchers have a good way to measure computer self-efficacy.

Here’s where Tom’s Hardware comes in: Arne needs computer experts to help him identify things that people at different levels of computer knowledge would be expected to know and do, so who better to ask than you, our readers? Your answers would provide Arne with the basis for the computer self-efficacy scale questions. All you’d need to do to help is fill out a short six-question survey. Responses are completely voluntary and anonymous. (You don’t provide a name or email address).

Please note that you must be at least 18 years old to participate in this study.

If you’re interested in participating, please click here and follow the instructions.

You can also contact Arne here or via our comments if you have any questions.

Thank you so much!

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  • leo2kp
    I think there need to be more categories. The gap between "advanced" and "expert" is too big, in my opinion. Or, there needs to be a level above "expert" that starts to get in to specializations such as network architects, hardware engineers, application development, etc. Also it's difficult to find a place for some pieces. I have friends that have no problem setting up a home network with a hardware firewall, network security, servers for streaming media, format HDDs and image PCs, but can't set up a RAID5 or 10 array or still need help picking PC components.
  • ojas
    Agree completely with leo2kp, I'm a noob when it comes to *nix systems, for example.
  • whint
    I agree with leo2kp about more categories needed in the study.

    I feel a basic understanding of at least a simple model of computer systems is important to everyone. input-processing-storage and output.

    I find the majority of the general public can't perform simple takes that I would expect a "Novice computer user" to do. For example: Backing up your files. Most novice consumers are unaware of the importance of data loss, they believe a spinning hard drive should last them over 5 years. In fact when I show them an internal image of a hard drive they instantly go "Oh, that thing has a lot of moving components, doesn't that mean they are prone to failure?" The simple fact that novice consumers do not understand the fundamentals of how a computer stores data is astounding.

    In my work, I have an extremely high volume of conversations across the country with individual consumers and businesses of varying computer knowledge and proficiency. I can without a doubt say that what I expect consumers to know/do is very frequently not what I see. Often I find myself educating others on principle ideas that were taught to me in elementary school no matter their skill level.

    The concept of this study fascinates me as I have spent my adult career teaching others concepts of technology. My educational conversations with others typically end in a cheerful and thought provoking interaction by both parties, and I assure you this is my view on the topic and I by no means wish to "put anyone down" when I mention the general public. This post is only meant to bring a realistic view on general consumer knowledge.

    I would love to see others' opinion and I'd like to see more information about this study.