An information technology perspective on the knowledge, skills, and support services that lead to technological fluency among college student affairs professionals
Cole-Avent, Gail A.
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The college student affairs profession has constantly adapted to the ever-changing technological environment within higher education. The profession has remained current or ahead many trends, but has experienced a gap between the technology-savvy student and the technology-phobic professional. The intent of this research was to learn about the current state of information technology use in college student affairs from information technology leaders’ point of view. Information technology leaders were defined as those individuals within, or working with, college student affairs. Measuring their attitude, belief and knowledge served as a foundation for developing a mixed methods description of the relationship of college student affairs professionals and information technology. A one-phase questionnaire soliciting quantitative and qualitative responses was used to survey 180 participants. The instrument included 23 quantitative and seven opened-ended qualitative questions. Statistical and qualitative analysis focused on five areas: support processes, technological fluency, technological skills, technology skill standards, and educational opportunities. In addition, four scales were developed from the questionnaire items: the Frequency of Support, College Student Affairs Information Technology Fluency, Perceived Ability, and Perceived Performance Scales. The findings showed that over 80% of the information technology leaders reported providing technical, educational, and training support to college student affairs professionals with specific computer applications, hardware use, and action items. College student affairs professionals exhibited fluency, and lack of it, through their attitude, behavior/action, and knowledge. Many of them were categorized as late majority adopters waiting for the critical mass to first adopt an innovation. The consideration of technology skill standards and the benefits to the profession received an affirmative response from the participants; however, dissension was voiced through qualitative results. Finally, information technology leaders and college student affairs professionals were identified as the two groups primarily responsible for supporting educational opportunities that promote the acquisition and development of technology skills and fluency. The findings, outlined above, have future implications for both the professionals and information technology leaders. The implications address the concept of advanced learning for specific technology applications and concepts, skill standards, FITness, security, and the development of opportunities for partnerships between information technology and college student affairs.
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