An analysis of the impact of a small business development center consulting program on the attitudes of small business owners toward computers in their firms

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Gaskin, Shelley L.
Wood, George S., 1930-
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Thesis (D. Ed.)
Department of Educational Leadership
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The purpose of this study was to investigate and report on the impact and effectiveness of a Small Business Development Center consulting program. The consulting program consisted of two individualized, self-paced, interactive computer courseware sets which were designed to deliver information about business computer systems to small business owners. The study was descriptive and exploratory in nature, utilizing a pre- and post-experience application of an attitudinal instrument. The participants were small business owners in Indiana.The primary research question related to the impact that the Indiana Small Business Development Center computer assistance consulting program had upon the attitudes of small business owners toward computers in their firms. The attitude of the participants toward computers was positive prior to the experience and remained so after the experience. Other major findings regarding small business owners' perceptions of the consulting program were as follows:1. Nearly 90 percent of the participants indicated that an individualized, self-paced, interactive computer courseware set was a useful way to obtain instruction about business computer systems, and 96.2 percent indicated that they would recommend the program under investigation to other small business owners.2. Although the majority of the participants had not used an integrated software package that contains word processing, spreadsheet, and database applications under one software umbrella prior to this study, following their interaction with the courseware sets almost 74 percent indicated that an integrated package would be practical for their businesses.3. Almost all (96.2 percent) of the participants found a graphical user interface to be useful in helping them understand the computer software.4. Participants preferred to use business associates and seminars or courses as sources of information for learning about computers for their firms, but lack of time prevents them from learning as much as they would like.Results of this study indicate that as adult learners, small business owners are a fragmented population, and therefore difficult to reach via traditional adult education programs. More emphasis by government and educational institutions on providing small business owners with training and education regarding computers and more research conducted in developing programs are suggested.