Title:Pre-Testing to Predict Participation in Online Communities
Authors:Ana Carr
Publication:MW2002: Museums and the Web 2002

At the University of Guadalajara a science education Web site has been developed. For the last two years professors have contributed as science consultants. At the moment we are developing a project that would be better described as a natural science museum on the Web for the state of Jalisco, Mexico for extension purposes. For this project the community of agricultural and biological science professors represents our best source of people to contribute to this site. The use of the Internet by professors is a two-fold question where, in one hand, we want to know the intensity of use of the web, and in the other hand we want to know how much, as an academic community this group would likely participate with contributions for the world via this medium. There is one tool that is helping us determine the likelihood that this academic community would contribute and the purpose of this paper is to share this tool with other professionals, and to share the information we found. In this paper the use of a self-efficacy instrument based on Bandura's social learning theory (1986) is discussed. This concept was developed to explain the effect of self-efficacy, the judgement that each of us have about our own skills in our own decisions to perform an activity, and the performance in the practice. Considering that the success in the performance of an activity requires effort and perseverance, performance operates partially independent of our skill. Self-efficacy is more related to our judgments about a possible performance than to our skills. A number of instruments have been developed to measure self-efficacy concepts, but so far none that measure the particular condition that exists in Latin-American countries. The instrument has 17 items that measure judgments about computers and Internet use. The instrument was used twice with the same community (234 professors), 1998 and 2001. On a scale of 1 to 5 where 1 is "not confident" and 5 is "most confident" professors were asked to react to the statement: "My confidence level for performing this task is:" When we compare the results of the 1998 with the 2001 questionnaire, it was found that the general mean for this scale (1-5) in 2001 is 3.0, when for 1998 the general mean was 2.6. The items with the highest mean in 2001 were the same for the 1998 results, these are: "send e-mail" (3.8) and , and "find specific information on the Internet" (3.7). Similarly, the two items with the lowest mean for 2001 were the same for the 1998 results: "create a home-page" (1.9) and "use a list-server and chat rooms" (2.1). These indicators provide information that this community is more likely to be consumers of the information rather than producers. It also provides us with direction to invest our efforts in training and campaigning programs if we want to increase our academic presence in the Internet.