You are here:

Improving Computer Literacy of Business Management Majors: A Case Study

, , , Utah Valley State College, United States

JITE-Research Volume 5, Number 1, ISSN 1539-3585 Publisher: Informing Science Institute


Stakeholders, such as future employers, parents, and educators, have raised their expectations of college graduates in the area of computer literacy. Computer skills and understanding are especially critical for business management graduates, who are expected to use computer technology as a tool in every aspect of their career. Business students should be able to show an enhanced understanding of computer literacy as they progress through each year of their college experience. An ideal final assessment should show that these students are able to make use of their computer skills in high-level problem solving situations. At the institution in this study, Utah Valley State College (UVSC), business management majors are required to complete a computer competency requirement early in their program by either taking a comprehensive computer applications course or by passing a state-wide computer proficiency exam. Later in their junior or senior year, these business students take a Management Information Systems (MIS) course where they are again expected to complete targeted business problems using spreadsheet, database, word processing, or presentation applications. These assigned business problems begin to approach the level of problem-solving expected by future employers. Instructors of the MIS course were seeing a lack of preparation and understanding as business management majors attempted to complete the assigned problems. Objective and subjective computer competency evaluations were given to business management students during their freshman, junior, and senior years. The result of these evaluations showed a decrease in students’ skill level and confidence level in some of the key computer literacy areas by graduation. When current or future employers were asked what computer literacy skills were most needed in business graduates, they ranked word processing and spreadsheet skills highest. In order to narrow the focus of this case study, spreadsheet use and confidence was singled out because this was the area in which our students seemed to need the most reinforcement and was highly valued by our local employers. At a future time, the participants of this study plan to extend this evaluation into other computer competency areas. A literature review was conducted to determine possible courses of action that could be taken to address the poor retention and advancement of some of the key computer literacy skills in business management majors. After examining our school’s goals and constraints, we formulated a change management plan that would help move our students from their novice use of computer skills into the intermediate or advanced application of spreadsheets, which was the most deficient area identified by current employers of our graduates.. The six-step change management plan is outlined in this paper. An ongoing assessment of senior business management students will be conducted yearly and a follow-up study will report these results after two years. Although the approach taken at our institution to address the computer skill retention problem is specific to our needs, it is hoped that the framework provided here will aid others who are seeking to address similar problems in their programs.


Johnson, D.W., Bartholomew, K.W. & Miller, D. (2006). Improving Computer Literacy of Business Management Majors: A Case Study. Journal of Information Technology Education: Research, 5(1), 77-94. Informing Science Institute. Retrieved March 21, 2019 from .


View References & Citations Map


  1. Albee, J. (2003). A study of preservice elementary teachers’ technology skill preparedness and examples of how it can be increased. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 11(1), 53-71.
  2. Asan, A. (2003). Computer technology awareness by elementary school teachers: A case study from Turkey. Journal of Information Technology Education, 2, 153-164. Available at Bartholomew, K, Johnson, D., Ormond, P., & Mulbery, K. (2003). Computer literacy: Use IT or lose it! Utah Valley State College School of Business Journal, 1, 6-14.
  3. Bartholomew, K. (2004). Computer literacy: Is the emperor still exposed after all these years? Journal of Computing Sciences in Colleges, 20(1), 323-331.
  4. Brady, J.A. & Monk, E.F. (2005). Problem-solving cases in Microsoft Access and Excel. Boston, MA: Thomson Course Technology.
  5. Compeau, D. & Higgins C. (1995). Computer self-efficacy: Development of a measure and initial test. MIS Quarterly, June, 189-211.
  6. Csapo, N. (2002). Certification of computer literacy. THE Journal, 30(1), 41-49.
  7. Dudley, S. & Dudley, L. (1995). New directions for the business curriculum. Journal of Education for Business, 70(5), 305-310.
  8. Eisenberg, M. & Johnson, D. (2002). Learning and teaching information technology skills in context. ERIC Digest, September, 1-4.
  9. Halaris, A. & Sloan, L. (1985) Towards a definition of computing literacy for the liberal arts environment. ACM SIGCSE Bulletin, Proceedings of the sixteenth SIGCSE technical symposium on Computer science education SIGCSE '85, 17(1), 320-326.
  10. Hartman, J. (1983). Computer literacy objectives for college faculty, Proceedings of the 11th annual ACM SIGUCCS conference on User services, New Orleans, Louisiana, United States, 189-192, October.
  11. Hoffman, M. & Blake, J. (2003). Computer literacy: Today and tomorrow. Journal of Computing Sciences in Colleges, 18(5), 221-233.
  12. Hoffman, M., Blake, J., McKeon, J., Leone, S., & Schorr, M. (2005).A critical computer literacy course. Journal of Computing Sciences in Colleges, 20(5), 163-175.
  13. Jones, C. (2001). When teachers’ computer literacy doesn’t go far enough. Education Digest, October, 5761.
  14. Karsten, R. & Roth, R. (1998). Computer self-efficacy: A practical indicator of student computer competency in introductory IS courses. Informing Science: The International of an Emerging Transdiscipline, 1(3), 61-68. Available at Kim, S. & Keith, N. (1994). Computer literacy topics: A comparison of views within a business school. Journal of Information Systems Education, 6(2), 55-59.
  15. McCade, J. (2001). Technology education and computer literacy. The Technology Teacher, October, 9-13.
  16. Miller, L.M. (2005). MIS cases: Decision making with applications software. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
  17. Morgan, J.N. (2002). Application cases in MIS: Using the internet and spreadsheet and database software. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.
  18. Murray, J. (2003). What is “contemporary literacy?” Multimedia Schools, 10(2), 15-18.
  19. Owens, B. (2003). Ethics and the Internet: A novel approach to computer literacy. Journal of Computing in Small Colleges, 18(4), 4-10.
  20. SimNet MIS (2004). McGraw-Hill College. Retrieved March 3, 2006, from Van Vliet, P., Klutke, M., & Chakraborty, G. (1994). The measurement of computer literacy: A comparison of self-appraisal and objective tests. International Journal of Human Computer Studies, 40, 835-857.
  21. Vitolo, T. & Coulston, C. (2002). Taxonomy of information literacy competencies. Journal of Information Technology Education, 1(1), 43-52. Available at Wallace, P. & Clariana, R. (2005). Perception verses reality– Determining business students’ computer literacy skills and need for instruction in information concepts and technology. Journal of Information Technology Education, 4, 141-151. Available at
  22. Whitaker, B. & Coste, T.G. (2002). Developing an effective IT integration and support system. Journal of Information Technology Education, 1(1), 53-63. Available at Wolfe, B. (1996). Achieving computer literacy. ACM SIGUCCS Newsletter, 26(3-4), 29-32.
  23. Wortham, K, & Harper, V. (2003). Learning Outcomes Assessment. Retrieved July 8, 2003, from services/LearningOutcomes.pdf. Johnson, Bartholomew, & Miller Questions used to measure students’ assessment of computer literacy.

These references have been extracted automatically and may have some errors. If you see a mistake in the references above, please contact