Attitudes and Self-Efficacy in Young Adults’ Computing Autobiographies
Andrew J. Ko
The Information School | DUB Group
University of Washington
Little is known about the formation of people’s first
perceptions about computers and computer code, yet it
is likely that these impressions have a lasting effect on
peoples’ use of technology in their lives and careers.
Brief autobiographical essays about these first
impressions were solicited from a diverse population of
young adults and these essays were analyzed for
factors that contributed to positive and negative
attitudes about technology, formation of self-efficacy,
and authors’ relationship with computing later in life.
The results suggest that first encounters with code must
be accessible, error-tolerant and socially engaging, that
mentorship can be a crucial factor in the acquisition of
programming skills, and that cultivating positive self-
efficacy in programming skills requires repeated
positive exposure across the lifespan. These results raise
several issues for novice programming languages and
tools and suggest a number of new approaches to
Society is increasingly reliant on the world’s
software infrastructure. From younger populations who
live their personal lives on social networking sites 
to growing elderly populations discovering e-mail as a
way to connect with family , people around the globe
are accepting technology into their lives as an essential
means of personal contact and commerce.
The people who improve and maintain this software
infrastructure, however, are a much smaller group.
These are the computer scientists, programmers, IT
administrators, web developers, and systems analysts,
among us, the technically trained individuals who at
some point in their lives, decided that computer
technology would not only be part of their personal
lives, but also the core of their professional careers.
Unfortunately, while these professionals are in ris