University of Porto (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2018 Proceedings
Publication year: 2018
Pages: 2058-2065
ISBN: 978-84-09-05948-5
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2018.1442
Conference name: 11th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 12-14 November, 2018
Location: Seville, Spain
An examination publicly available information and curricula of arts, design and architecture undergraduate programmes offered by Portuguese public higher education institutions led to the conclusion that out of the approximately 15500 students enrolled in 105 such undergraduate programmes, around 7600 students have access to learning computer programming, as 50 programmes offer at least one compulsory or elective unit about the subject. However, the beliefs and opinions towards computer programming by students in higher art and design education remains a gap that we want to face in our research through application of technology acceptance models, which albeit rooted in management and information sciences have a rich history of application in education.

To that effect, a study was conducted which applied a survey instrument based on the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT) to an opportunity sample of students currently enrolled in visual arts, music, design and architecture undergraduate programmes. Out of 187 responses, 41.2% reported proficiency in some form of computer programming, 35.8% reported to be currently learning, and only 23% reported no knowledge of the subject.

Some correlations were found between students’ programming knowledge, gender, age, seniority, perceived voluntariness and their perceptions of utility, effort, peer approval, anxiety, and intention to program or to learn it. Students with higher levels of programming knowledge were more likely to expect greater utility and lesser effort from programming, as well as to hold the opinion that programming conforms to their peers’ expectation. Such expectations of utility, effortlessness and peer approval were all found to positively correlate with students’ intention to program or, in the case of students without such knowledge, an intention to learn computer programming. Among students learning or already proficient at programming, it was found that their perceived voluntariness of the activity correlated with their perception of programming’s utility and effortlessness, and hence with their intention to program in a near future, whereas students that assessed their use or learning of programming as compulsory reported a higher anxiety. Among students currently learning to code, anxiety negatively correlated with an intention to program in a near future. This group of students reported greater levels of anxiety about the subject than those that don’t know programming, and students who claimed proficiency at programming reported the least anxiety about it. Female students were more likely to ascribe greater anxiety to the perspective of programming computers, as did younger students in general. As their interests presumably become more consolidated, more senior students who didn’t know programming yet were more likely to report a lesser influence by their peers and a lesser interest in learning to code.

From these findings it can be inferred that students’ anxiety presents a challenge to educators engaged with computer programming, and that efforts to demystify it, in articulation with work towards mitigating gender differences, given the female majority among students, should be paramount in adapting programming syllabi to arts and design education. These findings can also encourage researchers to further research the subject, both through larger technology acceptance studies and practice characterization case-studies.
Higher education, arts education, design education, technology acceptance, utaut model, creative code, computer programming, student survey.