The digital divide and single-gender undergraduate education in the UAE

Gilles Doiron

Abstract


Research on gender differences in perceived ICT competency, frequency of its use and attitudes over its value in higher education, while not conclusive, has indicated that males and females differ in areas of competency and frequency of use, and that females tend to feel more insecure than males in their perceived competency. However, since most of these studies were conducted in co-educational settings, single-gender tertiary education settings need to be explored for evidence of this “gender digital divide”. Zayed University has campuses in both Abu Dhabi and the Dubai (United Arab Emirates), and is gender segregated for the undergraduate population. During the fall 2011 semester, a student ICT profile questionnaire was distributed to students in the ‘Colloquy on Integrated Learning’ program of the University College. Four hundred eighty (480) students, 404 female (84%) and 76 male (16%), completed the questionnaire, and non-parametric tests and discriminant function analysis showed statistically significant differences between the gender groups. This Paper explores the strengths and weaknesses of each gender group, and examines the implications of the findings in order to best select teaching and learning strategies that address competency and confidence in areas that have been identified as weak.


Keywords


single-gender higher education; gender differences; ICT; pedagogy

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18538/lthe.v9.n2.102