An analysis of computer usage among speech-language pathologists in public schools
This study investigated if and why speech-language pathologists in public schools resist or accept computer technology as a tool of their profession. The researcher formulated hypotheses to identify variables that differentiated public school speech-language pathologists who are frequent users of computers from those who are infrequent/non-users of computers. The variables considered were: (1) attitudes toward computers and the "computerization" of society, (2) beliefs about computers, (3) gender, (4) number of years as a public school speech-language pathologist, (5) previous computer training, (6) number of schools served and (7) severity of handicapped student caseload. To implement the investigation the researcher designed a causal-comparative study. The sample chosen for this study consisted of 284 randomly selected public school speech-language pathologists holding membership in the American-Speech-Language-Hearing Association and employed in public schools nationally. The instrument used was a computer attitude and opinion survey developed by Zoltan and Chapanis and a supplemental questionnaire developed by the researcher. Respondents were categorized as frequent users or infrequent/non-users of computers according to the "extreme-group" method. Data analysis consisted of descriptive and inferential data treatments. The findings indicated that public school speech-language pathologists who are frequent users of computers in the workplace differ significantly from those who seldom or never use computers. Frequent users have more positive attitudes toward computers (t = +6.32 and p =.000 $<$.05) and more positive opinions about computers (t = +5.46 and p =.000 $<$.05) than infrequent/non-users. Frequent users were more likely than infrequent/non-users to hold degrees or certificates beyond the Master's level (chi-square = 7.35 and p =.077 $<$.05). Public school speech-language pathologists made better and more frequent use of computers if their school districts provided: (1) funding for hardware and software dedicated for use by speech-language pathologists (t = +2.97 and p =.003 $<$.05), (2) facilities for the secure storage of computer equipment (p = +2.24 and p =.026 $<$.05) and (3) effective human resource development programs such as in-service training programs to promote the formation of user-groups, "hands-on" experience and demonstration teaching (chi-square = 22.3 and p =.000 $<$.05).