Saturday, May 10, 2014

Restless legs and a research draft outtake

With respect to what I wrote earlier about waking up in the middle of the night, I conveniently forgot the fact that frequently my left leg is "restless". I have suffered in the past from restless leg syndrome; according to the wiki, one of the causes can be low levels of iron, and when I check the blood test which I did a month ago, I see that I am borderline anaemic (again). I shall make an appointment with the doctor and see what he has to say.

A few weeks ago, I came across a paper which mentions the concept of "spreadsheet self-efficacy"; computer self-efficacy is defined as " individuals’ judgement of their capabilities to use computers in diverse situations", and that paper defined "spreadsheet self-efficacy" as "an individual’s belief in their capability to use spreadsheets.” This idea of self-efficacy is very important but I needed a means of measuring it. I wrote to the lead author of that paper asking for the questions which were used to measure self-efficacy but have yet to receive a reply (most of the emails which I have sent to academics have been replied to almost immediately).

This afternoon I struck gold again in my research. I decided to google "spreadsheet self efficacy" and found a PhD thesis on the subject from a few years ago. Not only does this thesis contain all sorts of quotes which I can use, it also contains in entirety the nine item questionnaire which the author used to determine spreadsheet self-efficacy. I immediately added these questions to my research questionnaire which is now bursting at the seams. I will have to begin pruning questions which don't directly link to any of the research variables.

I will have to rewrite the efficacy material in the research proposal - something which I will be pleased to do as I will be improving what I have previously written - but at the same time I will be dropping a few paragraphs which unfortunately find no place in the proposal. Maybe I'll be able to restore them in the thesis. In the music business, we would call this an outtake. Here they are....

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An aspect of self-efficacy can be seen in what is known as Maslow’s hammer: Maslow (1966, revised 2004, p16) writes "I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail". A more specific rendering of this metaphor is "When the only tool that one has in one's mental toolbox is Microsoft Excel, then every problem looks like a spreadsheet". In other words, users bring the mental toolbox which serves them for solving private problems into the enterprise environment, not being aware (or ignoring the existence) of tools which are more suited to solving the given problem.

Wittgenstein put the same idea in a different way – "The limits of my language are the limits of my world. All I know is what I have words for". This is also similar to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis (otherwise known as the linguistic relativity principle), a theory which proposes that an individual's thoughts and actions are determined by the language or languages that the individual speaks. If the language that one 'speaks' is Excel, then one's actions are limited to solving problems with spreadsheets.

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