Student Attitudes toward International Business and the Internet: An Exploratory Study

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

The Internet as a learning tool in the International Business (IB) curriculum is becoming more widespread because of its informational and multimedia benefits. This research explores the relationship between student attitude toward the Internet and toward IB with four performance measures (i.e., objective, expected, behavioral, and attitudinal) and affect toward international learning to determine the effectiveness of Internet-based assignments. The results indicate that Internet attitude did not have a significant impact on any of the performance measures and had a negative significant relationship with international learning affect. However IB attitude had a significant positive relationship with expected IB grade, assignment enjoyment, and international learning affect as well as a significant negative relationship with assignment finishing time. The interaction effect of the two attitude measures was only positively related to assignment enjoyment. This study shows that student IB attitude is more pertinent than their Internet attitude when applied to student performance and international learning affect. At best, a positive Internet attitude can amplify an existing positive IB attitude, and at worst, it may dampen international learning affect.

INTRODUCTION

The pace of globalization has made an International Business (IB) curriculum a vital component of a business education (Fugate & Jefferson, 2001), but how to infuse this curriculum in a meaningful way with budgetary and time constraints has been a challenge for educators. In response, the Internet has been used as a low-cost alternative that can enable student learning through information gathering, access to marketing information, and communications with foreign experts (Siegel, 1996).

Although the Internet can provide new ways of teaching and learning, it does not guarantee that learning objectives will be met (Kirkwood & Price, 2005). Several researchers have examined student attitudes toward Internet usage and its benefits to international business education (e.g., Alon, 2003 ; Greene & Zimmer, 2003). Our study contributes to this growing body of research by exploring student attitudes not only toward the Internet but also toward IB and the interaction of these two attitudes on student performance and affect toward international learning. Furthermore, performance is tested from four different perspectives: objective, expected, behavioral, and attitudinal. Given the myriad possible applications for the Internet and the corresponding learning objectives to be met in a course, exploring the effectiveness of Internet applications in coursework can provide useful insights for pedagogy.

LITERATURE REVIEW AND RESEARCH QUESTIONS

The extant literature on Internet technology in the classroom has established that students are receptive to Internet usage for information and learning (Lundgren & Nantz, 2003). It can also enhance research skills and cross-cultural learning by providing a better understanding of foreign countries and cultural differences as well as enhance students' cross-cultural communication skills (Greene & Zimmer, 2003; Lawson, White, & Dimitriadis, 1998). Career benefits include an increased interest in an international business career or graduate studies (Greene & Zimmer, 2003) and perceived improvement in career opportunities and future job performance (Clarke, Flaherty & Mottner, 2001) as a result of using Internet assignments. Although students may gain additional international business skills and abilities, they may find the assignments too difficult or not entirely enjoyable (Alon, 2003).

Peng, Tsai, & Wu (2006), found that students' Internet attitude was influenced by gender, self-efficacy, and perceived Internet utility. While most students indicated a positive attitude toward the Internet and adequate Internet usage skills, males tended to have a more positive attitude than females. …