Evidence on Instructional Technology and Student Engagement in an Auditing Course

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Multiple platforms have made it possible to utilize web-based instructional tools to facilitate the interactions between faculty members and students between classes, and to enhance the student motivations and engagement in the learning process. The introduction of the instructional technology initiates the shift of the focus of the learning environment from instructors to students. While prior studies have examined the effect of student motivation and engagement on course performance (Vruwink & Otto, 1987; Elikai & Baker, 1988), little attention has been directed to this research question in the era of instructional technology. The purpose of this paper is to examine how instructional technology influences learner motivation and engagement, proxied by student activities on the Blackboard Vista course site.

It is evident that a number of technological changes have irreversibly changed the landscape of the traditional classroom setting of higher education. Most previous research generally provides positive results regarding the influence of information technology. Prior studies in accounting education employ the research methodology of surveys and questionnaires, which are subject to the limitations of self selection and biased inference of the results. To fully address the research question, this paper utilizes research methodology using objective data. This paper employs student tracking statistics at Blackboard Vista and provides an analysis on the role of instructional technology in a face-to-face auditing course.

LITERATURE REVIEW AND HYPOTHESIS DEVELOPMENT

The use of various instructional technologies in higher education has been on the rise at an accelerated pace. Despite the prominence of the impact of technology on the traditional classroom, limited evidence is available on the incremental contribution of these technologies to the in-class student learning environment. Previous research has focused on the influence of instructional technology on distance education, when face-to-face meetings are not required. While the quality assurance of online classes and the trade-off between quality and convenience are constantly called into question (e.g., Ryan, 2000), the merits of the use of instructional technology in college education should not be diminished.

There has been constant debate on the effectiveness of the delivery of management courses in the format of distance education. Leidner and Jarvenpaa (1995) provide a theoretical view on the influence of information technology on management school education. They point out that advanced technology would facilitate the display and access of information, thus increase the process of "sharing and construction" of knowledge (Leidner & Jarvenpaa, 1995).The evaluation results of e-learning via WebCT by Halawi, McCarthy, & Pires (2009) also indicate that e-learning is an effective instructional tool for MIS courses.

The study by De Lange et al. (2003) examines the student evaluations of Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) products in higher education in an attempt to determine whether such tools produce benefits with regards to student learning outcomes. Their survey concludes that accounting undergraduate students show a higher level of satisfaction after using such tools as lecture notes, bulletin boards, and online assessments. Their findings further indicate that overall student learning motivation and engagement is enhanced by the features generated from the implementation of instructional technology (De Lange, Suwardy, & Mavondo, 2003). Empirical research within accounting education is limited with regards to the effectiveness of technology applied to in-class courses. McVay et al. (2008) employ a survey instrument and find that classroom configuration and information technology have positive effects on student learning experience. Prior studies also find that most accounting students do not have difficulty in adapting to the learning environment aided by instructional technology (e. …