Workforce Literacy Participants’ Experience with Technology

This resource, from Canada, discusses the attitudes of adults towards technology in the workplace. 

Langille, L.
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation
School of Education, Acadia University, Canada
Publication Year
Resource Type
Number of Pages

This is a 2005 survey of adult learners focusing on their attitudes toward computers in the workplace and in educational settings.  It was conducted in Canada. Although, computer usage, computer ownership, and attitudes toward technology have doubtless changed between 2005 and 2015, this is useful in both terms of comparison and in terms of how computers are used in the workplace and at school.

Technology is in most workplaces on some level. Writing in electronic environments has features and guidelines that differ from conventional text. Therefore, this study was done to gauge the adult learner’s experience with and attitude toward technology, and to explore the impact of technology in the adult education program when preparing participants for the workforce. The researchers surveyed and interviewed 47 adult education students, identifying key points useful to adult education.  Although there was a low level of self-confidence, learners had a positive attitude toward learning about computers; and recognized the needs for reading and writing skills for success. 

What the experts say

Technology demands are unavoidable for today’s worker. Very few jobs have no technology requirements. In fact, job seekers are limited in their job search if they are not able to use a computer. This research paper explores the literacy and technology experiences, and the skills that people bring to a workforce literacy program. The desired outcome of this research is to provide programs with a better understanding of participant needs so programs can serve them more effectively.

The study involved 47 adults who completed a computer usage survey. The survey measured computer confidence, personal partiality, anxiety, usefulness, access, and usage. Then, participants were interviewed.

The findings indicated that participants had a positive attitude toward learning computers even though they had limited confidence. Participants recognized that literacy skills are essential in the workplace and understood that reading and writing skills are critical to employment success. The study also found that adults need to be introduced to new technologies and computer skills so they are better equipped with the skills they need to find and keep jobs. Adult learners are hungry for these skills and motivated to learn.

The value of this information to the field of adult education is that integrating technology and computer skills into the adult education classroom can improve persistence, because adults want and need these skills and they know it. They have a positive attitude about learning computer skills, and this connection may help to motivate and encourage them to persist in their education program. Increasing use of technology in the workplace does not reduce the need for skilled workers; it increases the need for workers to be able to read and write, and learn.

Methods the resource used to collect and analyze the data for the research: A six-category survey was administered to 47 adult literacy class participants. Interviews were then done to document their views on literacy, career goals, technology, barriers to employment, and motivation.

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