Computer Proficiency Questionnaire: Assessing Low and High Computer Proficient Seniors

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Abstract

Purpose of the Study:

Computers and the Internet have the potential to enrich the lives of seniors and aid in the performance of important tasks required for independent living. A prerequisite for reaping these benefits is having the skills needed to use these systems, which is highly dependent on proper training. One prerequisite for efficient and effective training is being able to gauge current levels of proficiency. We developed a new measure (the Computer Proficiency Questionnaire, or CPQ) to measure computer proficiency in the domains of computer basics, printing, communication, Internet, calendaring software, and multimedia use. Our aim was to develop a measure appropriate for individuals with a wide range of proficiencies from noncomputer users to extremely skilled users.

Design and Methods:

To assess the reliability and validity of the CPQ, a diverse sample of older adults, including 276 older adults with no or minimal computer experience, was recruited and asked to complete the CPQ.

Results:

The CPQ demonstrated excellent reliability (Cronbach’s α = .98), with subscale reliabilities ranging from .86 to .97. Age, computer use, and general technology use all predicted CPQ scores. Factor analysis revealed three main factors of proficiency related to Internet and e-mail use; communication and calendaring; and computer basics. Based on our findings, we also developed a short-form CPQ (CPQ-12) with similar properties but 21 fewer questions.

Implications:

The CPQ and CPQ-12 are useful tools to gauge computer proficiency for training and research purposes, even among low computer proficient older adults.

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