Sex differences in response to General Certificate of Education and Caribbean Examinations Council courses in computer studies: A case study of Jamaican high schools

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This study examines the responses of students in three Jamaican schools to courses in computer studies which lead to the General Certificate of Education (GCE) and Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) examinations. Existing work on different approaches to epistemology and cognitive style, and different styles of computer usage, was reviewed. An attempt was made to conceptualize a continuum of styles of computer usage, which ranges from abstract and formal on the one hand, to concrete on the other, and to develop a scale that could be used to measure this range. The study employed a questionnaire and a standard test of cognitive style as its main data gathering instruments. Teachers of computer studies in each of the three schools were interviewed. No statistically significant sex differences were found. The two syllabi were compared and both were found to favour an abstract approach to computer usage. While some of the items in the scale of computer usage styles were found to be significantly correlated with each other, the scale as a whole was not found to be internally consistent. Several factors identified in the literature were found, which restrict student access to computer studies as a subject choice. The study concluded that while no sex differences were found for the sample, this could not be used as a basis for generalization to the wider school population


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