Degree Granting Department
Adult, Career, and Higher Education
William Young, Ed.D.
Higher education, Technical support, Professional development, Age differences, Computer literacy
Institutions of higher learning across the United States are experiencing an aging faculty population. A significant proportion of college and university faculty are over 55, a growth expected to continue in future years. Parallel to this growth and change has been an expanding use of technology in higher education. Despite this trend and potential implications, few studies have provided in-depth insight into older faculty and technology. The study used a quantitative descriptive design to provide a comprehensive look at older community college faculty and various aspects of technology. Areas examined included older faculty's perceptions of technology, their attitudes toward institutional technology support and professional development, and their self-reported use of technology. Further, the study determined if older faculty reported existence of barriers preventing technology use and explored perceived technology and technology related needs.
A 120-item questionnaire and cover letter was mailed to full-time faculty at five Florida community colleges. Respondents included 246 full-time faculty members; older faculty (age 55 and over) comprised 40.7% of the population sample. Descriptive and inferential statistical procedures were employed for data analysis. Overall technology use among older faculty was slightly less than younger faculty; older faculty were no less likely than younger respondents to use technology. Both age groups used similar technologies and reported equivalent degrees of perceived skill with those technologies. Despite similarities in perceived technology use, older faculty considered technology a minor source of stress.
Younger and older faculty were positive about their institution's support services and expressed similar technology related needs, including additional professional development and classrooms equipped with Internet/network access, audio/visual technologies, instructor computer stations, and multi-media projection capabilities. Principally, the technological divide between younger and older faculty seems less striking than some have previously contended. Technology use and proficiency appear to vary widely across age groups. Older and younger respondents also had positive perceptions of technology. Findings suggest community colleges are serving adequately the technology needs of faculty. Recommendations for future research include broadening the population of community college faculty and exploring technology use among older four-year and university faculty.
Scholar Commons Citation
Van der Kaay, Christopher D., "Technology and older faculty: A descriptive study of older Florida community college faculty" (2007). USF Tampa Graduate Theses and Dissertations.