An investigation of the behavioural intention of students to use a Web conferencing environment

Peter Vitartas[HREF1], Course Coordinator, School of Commerce and Management [HREF2] , Southern Cross Univeristy, PO Box 157, Lismore [HREF3], NSW, 2480. peter.vitartas@scu.edu.au

Stephen Rowe [HREF4], Lecturer, School of Commerce and Management [HREF2] , Southern Cross University, PO Box 157, Lismore [HREF3], NSW, 2480. stephen.rowe@scu.edu.au

Allan Ellis[HREF5], Associate Professor, School of Commerce and Management [HREF2] , Southern Cross University, PO Box 157, Lismore [HREF3], NSW, 2480. allan.ellis@scu.edu.au

 

Abstract

Universities are making increased use of the Web and various information technology programs to expand the flexibility and improve efficiency of their teaching and learning environments. Personality factors and motivation have been found to impact on the use and adoption of information technology innovations. A model of behavioural intention is developed consisting of trait anxiety, achievement goal orientation and self-efficacy. A structural model is tested using a one-step approach and a solution identified. Behavioural intention was identified by a persons' self-efficacy of using a Web conferencing environment which in turn were identified by three components of achievement goal orientation. Trait anxiety was found to be related to ability-approach goal orientation and ability-avoidance goal orientation.

Introduction

Personality factors and motivation have been found to impact on the use and adoption of information technology innovations (Agarwal & Karahanna, 2000; Agarwal & Prasad, 1998). A pilot study supporting this proposition for Web conferencing environments was conducted in 2006 (Vitartas, 2006) and investigated the effect of achievement goal orientation and individual traits and anxiety on the self-efficacy of using a Web conferencing environment. Motivation and trait anxiety were found to be indicators of software adoption as measured by the self-efficacy instrument. This paper extends the research by investigating the effect of trait anxiety and motivation on students' behavioural intention to use a Web conferencing environment.

Developments in e-learning technologies such as Web conferencing environments have progressed a step closer to Morgan's (2001) “third generation learning system” where high bandwidth supports virtual classrooms and collaborative as well as complex simulations. Morgan's (2001) three stages of e-learning applications include: stage one, where technology was used as a delivery mechanism and stage two, where learning needs of students drive the design of the environment. The third stage builds on the second's philosophy of adapting to the learner's needs but with high bandwidth. . “The educational system adapts to the learning, not the other way around – as in the ‘text or course online' models” (p.209).

Second generation audiographics software, now commonly described as “Web conferencing”, “virtual meetings” or “collaborative” software are available that create environments where integrated instructional tools (VoIP, shared whiteboards, shared applications, video windows and archival recording) are available. Examples include Centra 7 [HREF6], Webex [HREF7], Breeze 5 [HREF8], Live Classroom [HREF9], Elluminate Live! [HREF10], Citrix MeetingToGo [HREF11], ASAP pro [HREF12] and Microsoft Live Meeting [HREF13] (see Rowe & Ellis (2006) for a more detailed review).

In developing and adopting these learning tools universities need to understand the value they provide to students and how to make a smooth transition to these environments. The purpose of this study is to develop an understanding of the underlying student factors and motivations that determine students' intention to use Web conferencing environments.

Perceived ability to use Web conferencing environments

Self-efficacy refers to “an individual's belief in his or her capability to perform a specific task” (Bandura, 1977). The construct is important in social psychology and is based on social cognitive theory which posits “ people learn by watching what others do” (Ormrod, 1998). Compeau and Higgins (1995) and Compeau, Higgins and Huff (1999) introduced the concept of computer self-efficacy into the information technology literature and defined it as an individuals' beliefs with regard to their ability to use a computer. Since then a body of literature has developed in computing and teaching-learning settings (Madorin & Iwasiw, 1999; Hansan & Ali, 2004; Hayashi et al., 2004; Ye & Im, 2004) with findings indicating that higher levels of self-efficacy lead to better learning performance.

The measure of self-efficacy does not refer to component skills, like the ability to use the Internet or specific computer skills but instead relies on the students' judgments of their ability to apply their skills to the overall task. In addition the measure of self-efficacy used in this study provided information on the magnitude of the level of capability and the strength or level of conviction about the judgment made by the student (Compeau & Higgins, 1995) .

Motivation

A number of studies have examined the relationship between goal orientation in learning, both in the classroom and in training programs (Johnson et al., 2000; Kozlowski et al., 2001; Midgley et at., 1998; VandeWalle, Cron & Slocum, 2001). A relatively recent development in motivational research, achievement goal orientation theory (Dweck & Leggett, 1988) measures motivation at two levels, the goal to develop ability (learning) and the goal to demonstrate ability (performance). More recently Midgley et al. (1998) extended the work of Elliot and Harackiewicz (1996) and have separated the performance goal into the two components of approach goal orientation and avoidance goal orientation.

A learning, or task, goal orientation is where a person aims to prove their competency through the acquisition of new skills and knowledge for the sake of learning and to demonstrate mastery of a situation. In approach goal orientation a person attempts to prove his or her competence by seeking positive feedback while an avoidance goal orientation is where the person seeks to avoid criticism. As a persons motivation drives their behaviour this study investigates the effect of motivation on their perception of their ability to undertake and their intention to use the Web conferencing environment.

Achievement goal theory is considered appropriate as a measure of motivation for Web conferencing environment as it has been developed in a social-cognitive framework that focuses on the aims or purposes pursued in an achievement setting (Ames, 1987) . This framework is not dissimilar to that used for self-efficacy and focuses on how the student thinks about themselves, their tasks and their performance. Performance goal orientation is thought to be positively associated with self-efficacy of using a Web conferencing environment as those who want to demonstrate that they can use the software will be more confident in their evaluation of whether they can use it or not. Conversely, avoidance goal orientation will be negatively associated with self-efficacy as those who do not want to avoid embarrassment will have low self-efficacy scores.

A number of personality traits have been identified as influencing IT acceptance and use (Marakas et al., 2000) . It is believed that these traits operate through a persons motivation by acting on the individuals achievement orientations. Trait anxiety refers to a general tendency to experience anxiety when confronted with problems of challenges (Spielberger et al., 1970) and is a general measure of anxiety about using computers (Thatcher & Perrewe, 2002). Thus it is thought that trait anxiety will be positively related to approach and avoidance goal orientations. The model of intention to use a Web conferencing environment is presented in Figure 1.

Methodology 

The study was conducted at the beginning of a semester as an on-line, pre-class survey, conducted in classes that were scheduled to use Elluminate (HREF10). The survey was undertaken in five undergraduate business subjects and included a first year mathematics unit, a second year marketing and accounting unit and a final year marketing and accounting unit. Students were undertaking study from a number of campus locations including students studying in internal and external modes.

The survey was divided into four sections, each section collected information on one of the attributes of interest, namely; intended use of Elluminate, self-efficacy of using Elluminate, achievement goal orientation and trait anxiety. The final section collected data for classification purposes. The data was analysed using SPSS (HREF14) and the model was tested using AMOS6 (HREF15). A total of 55 students responded to the survey an effective response rate of 22%, females comprised 58% of respondents, males 42%.

Self-efficacy

Self-efficacy of using Elluminate was measured using ten items adapted from (Compeau & Higgins, 1995) . The ten items were measured on a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being not at all confident using the software to 5 being totally confident using the software. Where respondents indicated they would not be able to use the scale under the conditions identified a score of zero was used. The scale had a mean of 2.05 and a variance of 1.58 indicating the sample, on average, were moderately confident using the software. Indices for unidimensionality were weak as reported in Table 1 suggesting self-efficacy may be a second order factor. Reliability was acceptable as measured by the Cronbach alpha coefficient of 0.94 and all the regression coefficients between the indicators and latent factor were significant at < .006 level. Given the level of testing by other researchers of the scale and the small sample size the ten items were retained for the variable.

Table 1: Results of unidimensionality indices

Model

X2(df)

P

SRMR

RMR

CFI

GFI

Trait Anxiety

.92 (2)

.631

.023

.026

1.0

.99

TGO

26.61(9)

.002

.056

.089

.92

.86

AApGO

17.27(9)

.045

.041

.060

.97

.91

AAvGO

17.50(9)

.041

.066

.078

.94

.90

Self-efficacy

73.98(35)

.000

.073

.265

.91

.76

Trait anxiety

Trait anxiety was measured using four items drawn from Lehrer and Woolfolk (1982) . Respondents were asked to report feelings of anxiety and mental preoccupation with problems experienced during a typical day. Results were measured on a five point scale with 1 being strongly disagree through to 5 being strongly agree. The scale has been tested by Thatcher and Perrewe (2002) who confirmed the items' reliability and validity.

The scale had a mean of 2.10 and a variance of 0.18. Results of selected fit indices reported in Table 1 satisfy the requirements of unidimensionality. The four items had a Cronbach alph coefficient of 0.79 which is above the suggested level of 0.70. All the regression coefficients between the indicators and latent factor were significant at <.001 level demonstrating convergent validity. 

Task goal orientation

Task goal orientation is the goal to develop ability. The construct consisted of six items and had a mean of 3.32 and a variance of 0.76 indicating that respondents were task goal oriented. Results from this study found the items, as measured on a five point scale with one being strongly disagree through to five being strongly agree, of selected fit indices reported in Table 1 satisfy the requirements of unidimensionality and the Cronbach alpha was 0.85 indicating acceptable reliability. All the regression coefficients between the indicators and latent factor were significant at < .001 demonstrating convergent validity.

Ability-approach goal orientation

Ability-approach goal orientation is the goal to demonstrate ability. The construct was measured consisting of six items and had a mean of 2.48 and a variance of 0.09 indicating that respondents were not ability-approach goal oriented. Results from this study found the items satisfy the requirements of unidimensionality. Cronbach alpha was acceptable at 0.92 indicating reliability and all the regression coefficients between the indicators and latent factor were significant at < .001 level.

Ability-avoidance goal orientation

Ability-avoidance goal orientation is the goal to avoid demonstrating the lack of ability. The six items for this construct had a mean of 2.27 and a variance of 0.14 indicating the sample did not have a strong ability-avoidance goal orientation. The ability-approach goal orientation indices for unidimensionality were satisfied. Reliability was acceptable as measured by the Cronbach alpha coefficient of 0.86. In addition all the regression coefficients between the indicators and latent factor were all significant at < .001 level.

Achievement Goal Orientation

A test of the combined model of achievement goal orientation did not run indicating the three variables did not form a single construct. Further investigation of the construct is needed for this measure. The research was continued as an exploratory study with the three constructs included in the overall model of behavioural intention as individual constructs.

There were a number of breaches of the requirements of unidimensionality as recommended by Hair et al. (2006) for each of the constructs. The relatively small sample size may have contributed to the poor construct performance and further analysis of the components of these scales is required. However measures of reliability and convergent validity were acceptable for all the constructs measured.

Model of Behavioural Intention to use a Web conferencing environment

The hypothesised structural model was tested using a one-step approach, as recommended when a model possesses both strong theoretical rationale and highly reliable measures (Hair et al., 2006) . The model was also constructed with composite scores being calculated for each factor. This is an approach recommended by Ping (2004) for larger structural models with smaller samples.

The model was run and a solution identified. An examination of the regression weights indicated that self-efficacy for using Elluminate was indicated by the three motivation constructs. All the regression weights were significant at the .05 level. The model for behavioural intention to use the Web conferencing environment was identified as reported in Table 2 and Figure 2. The findings are discussed in the following section.

Table 2: Results from test of model

Model

X2(df)

P

SRMR

RMR

CFI

GFI

Behavioural Intention

8.81(7)

.267

.06

2.25

.99

.95

 

 

Discussion

The results from the analysis provide an insight into the factors affecting the behavioural intention for using Web conferencing environments such as Elluminate and provide guidance for the development of training and support for students undertaking classes using the program.

Behavioural intention was identified by a persons' perceived ability to use the program. Their perception in turn was influenced by their achievement goal orientations and trait anxiety. Ability-approach goal orientation, which is the goal to demonstrate ability, and task goal orientation were found to be positive related to the self-efficacy of using a Web conferencing environment. Those respondents who had positive ability-approach goal orientations and task goal orientations had more confidence to use a Web conferencing environment. Likewise ability avoidance goal orientation was negatively related to Web conferencing environment self-efficacy indicating those respondents who have strong ability avoidance goal orientation have lower confidence in using a Web conferencing environment. Trait anxiety was positively related to both ability approach goal orientation and ability avoidance goal orientation. The greater trait anxiety the greater the person seeks positive feedback and wants to avoid embarrassment. The finding highlights the underlying importance of trait anxiety when introducing new technology to learning environments.

In designing strategies and encouraging users to try a Web conferencing environment it is recommended that students be organised into groups where they work together on a simple project that would get them to use the environment together. This way they can learn in the safety of a colleague and not be exposed to embarrassing moments in front of the lecturer or other class mates.

Limitations

The findings presented here are limited to students studying in a business course. While the sample size was small future research could use a larger sample and investigate students studying in other disciplines to provide findings generalizable to a wider audience. In addition the sample was obtained on a voluntary basis and non-response bias could exist.

Conclusions

The findings reported here indicate that motivations such as achievement goal orientations have an effect on the adoption of new Web conferencing environment such as Elluminate. In particular respondents who wanted to demonstrate their ability were more confident assessing whether they could use a Web conferencing environment. The findings also suggested those who were oriented toward developing their ability were no different in their assessed confidence to use the environment. Further research is necessary to confirm the relationships found in this study.

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Hypertext References

HREF1
http://www.scu.edu.au/staffdirectory/person_detail.php?person_id=87
HREF2
http://www.scu.edu.au/schools/comm/
HREF3
http://www.scu.edu.au/
HREF4
http://www.scu.edu.au/staffdirectory/person_detail.php?person_id=258
HREF5
http://www.scu.edu.au/staffdirectory/person_detail.php?person_id=88
HREF6
http://www.saba.com/products/centra/index.htm
HREF7
http://webex.com.au/au/webexhome.html
HREF8
http://www.macromedia.com/software/breeze/
HREF9
http://horizonwimba.com/products/liveclassroom/
HREF10
http://www.elluminate.com/
HREF11
http://www.citrixonline.com/
HREF12
http://www.convoq.com/
HREF13
http://microsoft.com/office/uc/livemeeting/default.mspx
HREF14
http://www.spss.com/spss/
HREF15
http://www.spss.com/amos/

Copyright

Peter Vitartas, Stephen Rowe and Allan Ellis, © 2007. The authors assign to Southern Cross University and other educational and non-profit institutions a non-exclusive licence to use this document for personal use and in courses of instruction provided that the article is used in full and this copyright statement is reproduced. The authors also grant a non-exclusive licence to Southern Cross University to publish this document in full on the World Wide Web and on CD-ROM and in printed form with the conference papers and for the document to be published on mirrors on the World Wide Web.