When it comes to basic computer applications, even members of the millennial generation may not know as much as they think they do.
A study by North Carolina Central University found that most students overestimated their skill levels when they were asked how they perceived their ability to complete certain tasks and then tested on those tasks.
Researchers surveyed 171 undergraduates, the majority of whom believed they had either an average or high skill level in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. The students were then tested on three different skill levels — basic, moderate, and advanced — in each of those applications.
Students correctly perceived their skill level only in PowerPoint, the study said, with 81 percent of students who thought they had at least an average skill level actually performing that way.
When using Microsoft Word, 75 percent of students perceived a high skill level, and could on average perform 12 out of the 13 basic tasks, like changing the font and making text bold or italic. But these students could perform only five out of the 10 moderately difficult tasks, like performing word counts or justifying paragraphs, and none of the advanced tasks, which included copying and pasting items from the clipboard, according to the study.
The study said students had the worst perception of their skill at using Microsoft Excel. About 69 percent of students thought they had at least an average skill level, but could not perform most of the basic, moderate, or advanced tasks, which included actions that ranged from from copying cells to creating formulas.
Researchers wrote that the “requirements of the business job market and students’ knowledge, experience, and self-efficacy of business computer applications is continually changing,” and recommended more assessment of undergraduates’ computer-skill levels. Otherwise, the study said, students will likely enter the market unprepared. —Erica R. Hendry