Anxiety in Using ICT and Online Reading Strategies of Service Sector Employees

P Madhumathi


The fast-changing digital environment necessitates employers to upgrade their marketing strategies with technological applications. Subsequently, to meet the employer’s demand, the employee must update their ICT knowledge to increase the product’s sales. The paper aims to understand the capabilities of the employees from different backgrounds in reading the text online. The study implements a survey method to analyse the online reading skills of the employees. Even though employees’ anxiety levels in using ICT are at moderate level, the results report that the awareness level of the employees in reading online texts is not satisfactory. Hence, the analysis indicates the need to effectively train the employees in reading-strategies and handle their ICT knowledge.

Keywords: ICT, reading comprehension, online-reading, employability skills.


The English language plays a crucial role as the predominant tool for communication in the global community. The four English language skills consisting of listening, speaking, reading and writing are strongly related to each other as skills. Having excellent reading comprehension skills is crucial. It increases the enjoyment and effectiveness of reading and helps not only academically but professionally. Online Reading skills can be treated as a source to understand an individual’s knowledge in using ICT and deploying reading skills.

Effective communication skills comprise a valuable asset for any student seeking employment irrespective of sector, and the English language undoubtedly plays a pivotal role in that. Given the rapidly changing scenario of a globalised and increasingly digitised world, English language skills have become an almost mandatory requirement for candidates seeking employment around the globe and India is no exception. Given India’s multilingual diversity, even national and regional firms tend to prefer candidates with workable English communication skills for catering to the needs of their clients, let alone the ones involved in international transactions. Evidently, as a lingua franca, English has considerable importance globally and nationally. Therefore, English forms an essential part of the curriculum across undergraduate study streams in the Indian higher education system.

Review of literature:

  1. Reading :

Onovughe (2012) states, “reading is the ability to interpret anything that is intended to convey a message or that which is to enable communication.” In other words, reading is a demanded skill in which the readers must have the ability to analyse the message in the text. The knowledge of what a writer means in a text necessitates appropriate reading of the text.

Bussière and Gluszynski (2004) state, “reading skills lie at the basis of all learning that in turn produces a knowledgeable society.” (p.11) this statement implies that reading is a necessary key in every learning to have knowledgeable people. They have a lot of information from the text they have read.

  1. Online Reading skills :

Hagood (2003, p.387) emphasised, “because new media and online literacy are part and parcel of our day-to-day lives, reading researchers and educators need to begin to view them as a central aspect of literacy research.” Thus, it creates the need to understand if computer technology has influenced students’ reading habits and how they could implement it in their corporate jobs.

The following terminologies are related to reading

  1. Reading: Decoding written symbols into speech equivalents and acquiring meaning from the speech sounds.
  2. Semantic information: Information derived from the relations between referents and names, and between concepts and names
  3. Syntactic information: Information derived from the pattern or structure of word-order in sentences, clauses and phrases
  4. Reading comprehension

The understanding of writing language; ability to understand and interpret in context

  1. Context

The way a word is used in a sentence

Objectives of the study:

To explore the

  • Online reading strategies of the employees
  • Differences in the deployment of SLORS by educational qualification
  • Anxiety levels in using ICT in the workplace


Data collection:

The management of the local service centers were contacted to ensure that the company would consent to conduct the research in its premises and that it was willing to cooperate. The questionnaires were distributed with the assistance and the cooperation of the HR department. In particular, the Questionnaires were distributed, explaining the context of the questions by the researcher.

Completed questionnaires were collected by the researcher to ensure that the employees felt free to express their opinions. In general, the presence of the researcher in the premise was very discrete. Further direct interaction with the employees was avoided to ensure that the answers would not be affected. The research was conducted on November, as they are in the procedure for the Christmas Sale.

Research participants and sample design:

Questionnaires were developed to collect data from service providers on the role and nature of the Reading skills. Since this research was exploratory in nature, the Questionnaire was developed by the authors based on the literature and focusing on the online reading skills and the strategies they use to read the Data/information.

The Questionnaire consisted of 41 Questions measuring the use of reading strategies for workplace purposes. It also studies the preferences in searching data in association with their knowledge in reading and use of ICT in different contexts.

A convenience sample of the customers was undertaken. A response rate was obtained, which is satisfactory for research work. Overall, 55 Men and 10 Women participated in the project with the age group from 23 to 40 years. In which, 14 % of the participants are non-degree holders, around 12% of the participants have done a diploma degree, and 74% of the participants are degree holders. They are working in various jobs roles in the company such as accounts executive, project engineer, customer reporter, network member, software engineer, sales executive, service employee, supervisor, sales representative, service advisor, upload manager, manager computer administrator, service dealer, DTP operator, Sales head, Specialist, desktop administrator and proprietor.


The overall results of the employees’ response to the Second Language Online Reading Strategies questionnaire reported that the participants have medium (M= 3.57) awareness to use online strategies during reading. The anxiety levels of the employees to use ICT are also at medium (M=3.63) levels. A 5-point Likert scale was used to score the levels of the reading skills of the employees.

                        Mean Range                                                 Level

                          3.5 Above                                                     Good

                          3.5-2.5                                                           Medium

                          Below 2.5                                                      Poor

Table 1: Descriptive Statistics for Employees response to SLORS

 NMinimumMaximumMeanStd. Deviation
SLORS Mean65

Based on the results of data analysis, the understanding was as follows. The Questionnaire was classified into different sections. Based on results, the communicative and translation skills are at the medium level, and the Locating and Inferring skills are performed at least by the participants. Skills that involve Evaluating, Translating and Saving are the most preferred strategies of the employees in the workplace; however, it is deployed moderately by the employees. On average, the overall performance of the participants can be classified into a medium section.

Table 2: Mean Value of SLORS Sub-categories

SLORS Sub-categories      Mean

Table 3: ANOVA

Difference between the variables based on the Educational Qualification

 Sum of SquaresdfMean SquareFSig.
Between Groups.9313.3102.554.059*
Within Groups4.98241.122  
*One-tail significance


This Exploratory research was undertaken to develop a better understanding of the online reading skills for the service sector employees. The participants were differentiated according to their educational qualification and job roles which played a significant role in the exhibition of their reading skills.

The higher-level employees, being undergraduate or postgraduate, are able to read the content, in accordance with their experience. They are capable of defining the purpose of the text. The middle-level employees who just finished the under graduation and joined the service sector, are little low at their reading skills. One of the primary reasons for the employers’ reluctance to improve their reading is the emphasis they give for their native language and their belief on satisfying the customers through native language. Thus, the lack of training in English communication skills enhances the employees’ anxiety levels when they deal with customers who speak in English.

Acknowledgement:  This study is funded by IMPRESS ICSSR scheme.


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About the Author

Dr P. Madhumathi is working as an Assistant Professor at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, National Institute of Technology, Warangal.