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Undergraduate Computer Use Phone Survey - Fall 1998


In fall 1998,

  • 74% of undergraduates had their own computers; 86% of these still used campus computer labs.
  • 35%of undergraduates favor a policy requiring entering freshmen to have their own computers.
  • Methods



Population and Sample: The population was all undergraduates enrolled at CU-Boulder during the fall 1998 semester. A stratified random sample of 152 students was chosen. Students were selected at random within 4 school categories: Arts & Sciences, Business, Engineering, and Other (all other schools).

Contact Method: Students were contacted by phone by an outside survey firm hired to conduct the survey. Calls were place in November 1998.

Questionnaire: The questionnaire was designed for telephone administration. The purpose of the questionnaire was to 1) assess rates of computer ownership and use among students, as well as frequency of use and adequacy of campus computing facilities, and 2) assess student support for a then-proposed new policy requiring incoming fall 2000 freshmen to have their own computers. (Questionnaire)

Respondents: A total of 152 students completed the phone survey. Respondents included 33 A&S, 40 Business, and 40 Engineering students, as well as 39 students from other schools. Responses were obtained from 54 freshmen, 32 sophomores, 29 juniors, and 37 seniors.

Weighting: Data were weighted by college and class level to match the population.


Computer Ownership - Display A

  • 74% of students have their own computer; 81% of those with a computer own a PC.
  • Business and A&S students are more likely than Engineering to have their own computer. This may reflect more heavy reliance among Engineering students on campus labs due to use of specialized programs.

Students who own a computer:

Advantages - Display B

  • Approximately two-thirds say having a computer helps with: grades (75%), class preparation (69%), effective use of study time (67%), getting info about CU (67%)
  • Approximately two-thirds say having a computer makes no difference with learning in courses (63%) or connecting to the UCB community (69%)

Time spent - Display C

  • Most time is spent doing academic work, then email, then internet/surfing the web
  • 67% say they never use their computer for games

Lab use - Display D

  • 86% of students who have their own computer still use the campus computer labs
  • These students report using lab computers for academic work and email, and somewhat for internet/web surfing, but not for games
  • 86% say their computing needs are met by the CU labs; however, this finding is a function of class level, with freshmen and sophomores more likely than upperclassmen to indicate that the labs meet their needs.

Students who do not own a computer:
(Caution: interpret findings with caution due to small number)


  • 42% say a computer is too expensive; 30% say they can use campus lab/public site. 27% say they can use someone else’s computer.


  • Two-thirds or more students thought not having a computer made no difference in grades (69%), class preparation (70%), or learning (91%). However, a substantial portion (29%) said it hurt grades and class preparation.
  • 63% said it made no difference in using study time effectively, but 34% said it hurt.
  • 41% said it hurt their ability to get information about UCB and 40% said it hurt their connection to UCB community.
  • In contrast to students who own a computer and downplay some of the advantages of having one, a substantial number of students without computers think it is a disadvantage not to own one.

Computer use

  • 53% of those without their own computer use a PC most often; 40% use a Mac.
  • When working on a computer, 48% use a campus lab most often and 39% use the residence hall computing facilities (freshmen and a few sophomores)
  • 73% say their computing needs are met by the campus labs
  • Students without computers use lab computers for academic work, email, some web surfing, but not much for games

Support for new computer policy:

At the time the survey was conducted, UCB was considering implementing a policy that would require all entering freshmen starting in fall 2000 to have their own computer. A question asked about student support for such a policy.

For or Against Computer Policy - Display E

  • 65% of students are against the policy; 35% reporting being in favor of the policy
  • Engineering students are more likely to be for the policy, as are upperclassmen
  • Students who own a computer are slightly more likely than students without computers to be in support of the policy
  • The most frequent reason for not supporting the policy was the financial burden the requirement might place on some students

Last revision 05/02/16

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