A Field Experiment: Instructor-Based Training vs. Computer-Based Training

Article excerpt

This study is motivated by the issues created by end-user computing (EUC) and its growing importance within organizations. One of the major issues related to EUC is training individuals to adopt to the new technology. As a result, both researchers and practitioners are challenged to find new ways to train end users. In response to this challenge, researchers have studied key variables such as training support and delivery techniques, and individual differences that can be manipulated to enhance training program design.

There is a critical need for computer literacy and aptitude due to the pervasiveness of computers in the workplace, massive investments in computing technology by corporations and subsequent impact on return on investment, and the dynamic nature of information systems (IS) technology change. More specifically organizations are concerned about the long-term effect of training on individual performance. The study reports the result of longitudinal study conducted in an industrial setting.

Corporate management is frequently more interested in training as opposed to education. Training is an activity related to the job and oriented toward problem solving. On the other hand formal education is preparation for a defined profession. Since formal Information Technology (IT) education often lags the needs of industry, corporations must find new ways of providing training to keep abreast of advancing IT. Corporations use various ways to train their employees such as instructor-based training (IBT), Computer-Based Training (CBT), and video training. The first author of this study conducted a field experiment to evaluate the impact of IBT versus CBT on employees' performance. The findings indicated that the major difference between IBT and CBT subjects were attributed to the performance, enrollment for the classes, motivation and general attitude toward training method, and satisfaction with the facility. A key issue the research identified was that it is difficult to sell the CBT method as a formal training tool to employees.

Field Experiment

To determine the importance of selected key variables in successful training programs a field experiment was conducted in a corporate setting. Key variables studied were the training methods and task. The training methods used were instructor-based training (IBT) and computer-based training (CBT). Tasks selected for the study were Word for Windows and Excel 5.0. The target population for this study was the end-users of information systems technology. The subjects (sample) for this study were employees of a Fortune 100 corporation located in a major southwestern city in the United States. The corporation is a major producer of semiconductor, defense systems, and information technology products. The corporate management requires all levels of its employees to take training pertaining the use of information technology applications software. The study included both hourly and salaried employees-- assembly line workers, administrative clerks, technicians, engineers, as well as managers. The study included employees who were required to or who want to learn new software packages. Because of privacy and ethics concerns, the subjects' anonymity was preserved. The reason for using the corporate employees in the experiment was to strengthen the external validity of the study. The subjects selected for this study were all novices. Subjects were allowed to select training classes based on the training schedule provided by the training center. The training center is a formal entity of the corporation that employs qualified trainers and staff. The training center offers technical as well as non-technical training to the employees year-around. Employees sign up for the training depending upon their workloads and the classes offered by the training center. A self-selecting and convenience sample was employed in this study.

Procedure

Each subject was asked to sign a letter of consent stating that participating in the experiment is voluntary. …