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Gender difference in web search perceptions and behavior: Does it vary by task performance?

Computers & Education Volume 78, Number 1, ISSN 0360-1315 Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


This study investigates Chinese students' gender differences in their actual use of the web for online information seeking. One hundred and seven Chinese university students responded to questionnaires regarding their perceptions about the use of the web for learning purposes. Afterwards, all the participants were asked to search online to answer two questions about bees' decision for hive location. As they searched, the online system logged participants' search activities during the search, including the type of activities during search, the frequency of each activity and the time spent on each activity. Participants were compared by gender in terms of their web search efficacy, web search anxiety, frequency counts of different web search activities, time spent on each search activity and search task performance. Web search efficacy levels varied by gender but not by performance levels. Anxiety did not vary by gender or performance levels. The interaction effect between gender and performance level was found in several search process variables: significant gender differences were only found in medium-performing students wherein males were engaged in more search activities than females, as seen in the larger number of searches, search queries, and times male students updated the search queries. One factor that could explain the significant gender differences in the medium-level group was their web search efficacy. The more confident medium-performing male students were in web search, the less need they perceived to access information to solve the task. This pattern was reversed for medium-performing females. The high- and low-performing males did not differ much from females in their search activities. It appeared that students' perceptions of their web search ability did not contribute much to their search activities in these two groups. Implications of the findings were also discussed.


Zhou, M. (2014). Gender difference in web search perceptions and behavior: Does it vary by task performance?. Computers & Education, 78(1), 174-184. Elsevier Ltd. Retrieved January 28, 2021 from .

This record was imported from Computers & Education on January 29, 2019. Computers & Education is a publication of Elsevier.

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