Internet Usage in the Academic Environment: The Technology Acceptance Model Perspective

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

This study examined the impacts of perceived ease of use (PEOU), perceived usefulness (PU), and perceived Internet content (PIC) on students' usage of the Internet. Additionally, it investigated the impacts of these variables on usage of the Internet as moderated by gender, educational background, income, computer users' classification, and self-reported measure of computer knowledge. We modified the original technology acceptance model (TAM) and created a theoretical model to better understand the hypothesized relationships. To validate the research model, we collected data from 170 students at a regional Midwestern university. The results showed that PEOU and PU, but not PIC, were significant factors in influencing usage of the Internet. Additionally, gender was the only significant moderator. PEOU affected usage of the Internet more strongly for female students than it did for male students.

INTRODUCTION

Although much research has been conducted on Internet adoption in business environments (e.g. Tan & Teo, 1998; Stanfield & Grant, 2003; Teo & Pian, 2004), few have examined the adoption of the Internet in academic environments. Educational institutions, especially colleges and universities, are trying to take advantage of the decreased costs that delivering course content over the Internet may provide (Karelis, 1999; Valentine, 2002). As Lundgren and Nantz (2003) mentioned, about 500,000 courses were available on the Internet in 2003. However, before starting a project of this nature, educational institutions need to understand factors that motivate and determine Internet usage among students. The study intends to address this research gap by focusing on establishing the factors that influence Internet usage by college students.

A large percentage of the research on technology adoption/usage has used Davis's (1989) technology acceptance model (TAM). In his parsimonious model, Davis stated that perceived ease of use (PEOU) and perceived usefulness (PU) are the most salient beliefs in determining individual acceptance intention and behavior. Lederer et al. (2000) summarized sixteen articles published from 1991 to 1999 in leading MIS journals that tested the TAM model for different technologies (e.g. ATM, e-mail, Netscape, Access, Internet, Word, and Excel). TAM has been shown to explain a significant amount of the variance in intentions to use a technology and/or actual use of a technology. Among the studies that focused on TAM, most have followed Davis's (1989) assumption that external variables (such as gender, experience, and other demographic variables) influence technology adoption/usage through beliefs about PEOU and PU. These external variables have been considered to have a direct influence on PEOU and PU. In this study, however, we are extending the unified model proposed by Venkatesh et al., (2003) which introduced some external variables (such as gender, age, experience, and voluntariness) as moderators between the hypothesized antecedents of intention (such as performance expectancy, effort expectancy, social influence, and facilitating conditions) and behavioral intention. Additionally, we included perceptions of Internet content (PIC) as another antecedent of Internet usage. In other words, we speculated that external variables may affect the direction and/or strength of the relations between PEOU, PU, and PIC and technology usage.

The paper is organized as follows. In the next section, we briefly review related studies, propose a theoretical model for the factors that influence Internet usage, and present the hypotheses to be tested. Then, we describe the research method and report the results. The last section presents conclusions, implications, limitations, and future research questions.

LITERATURE REVIEW OF CONSTRUCTS AND HYPOTHESES

Perceived Ease of Use (PEOU) and Perceived Usefulness (PU)

The technology acceptance model (TAM) proposed by Davis (1989), is a well-established model of IT adoption and use. …