Encouraging Learning of Industry Technology: A Merchandising Example

By Reilly, Andrew; Huss, Megan et al. | Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences, November 2005 | Go to article overview

Encouraging Learning of Industry Technology: A Merchandising Example


Reilly, Andrew, Huss, Megan, Stoel, Leslie, Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences


The application of the technology acceptance model to a merchandising course teaching industry software was evaluated. Based on technology acceptance research, industry software was presented emphasizing ease-of-use and usefulness. The final course project gave students a quasi real-life experience of combining merchandising skills with the software. Responding students were satisfied with the software and the project itself. A regression analysis revealed that satisfaction with the software predicted satisfaction with the project.

Developing technological literacy in students is a critical step in preparing them for the corporate world (Benbunan-Fich, Lozada, Pirog, Priluck, & Wisenblit, 2001). Researchers have concluded that integrating technology into instruction benefits students by immersing them in hands-on learning, and promoting higher learning (Benbunan-Fich et al., 2001; Owlia & Aspinwall, 1996).

Teaching technology in merchandising courses is not new, but the method in which is it presented may affect the quality of learning or satisfaction (Morss, 1999). The Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) suggests that to accept technology, users must perceive it as useful and easy-to-use (Davis, 1993). Previous technology experience increases ease-of-use and usefulness perceptions (Szajna, 1996). Also, acceptance is related to intention to use in the future (Davis, 1993). Such findings have important implications for retailers and educators: students who have technology experiences in their coursework may be more accepting of technology in their post-graduate careers. By presenting technology as easy-to-use and useful, educators may be successful in developing technological literacy among students.

Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine the effect of student perceptions of ease-of-use and usefulness on satisfaction with instructional use of merchandising technology. Student beliefs about the ease-of-use and usefulness of an industry software package, and the influence of those beliefs on satisfaction with the software and a final project were tested.

TECHNOLOGY ACCEPTANCE

Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) research provides empirical evidence that beliefs about: (a) how easy technology is to use, and (b) how useful technology is, influence attitudes toward, intention to use, and subsequent use of the technology (Davis, 1989; Davis, 1993). As defined by Davis (1989), perceived ease-of-use is the degree to which an individual believes that learning to use a technology will require little effort. Perceived usefulness refers to the extent that an individual believes that use of the technology will improve performance. Attitude is an individual's feeling about using the technology. Intention to use is the likelihood that an individual will use the technology in the future and is a precursor of actual use.

Studies suggest that acceptance of technologies perceived to be useful and easy-to-use are related to intention to use in the future (Davis, 1993; Mathieson, 1991). In addition, research has found that previous experience with technology increases beliefs that similar technology is easy to use and useful (Agarwal & Prasad, 1999; Szajna, 1996).

Merchandising Software: Sourdng Simulator

The Ohio State University owns a site-license for Sourcing Simulator, one industry software package among several on the market. The authors do not endorse this particular package, and encourage future studies that replicate this research using competing or complementary products. Sourcing Simulator enables users to evaluate merchandising strategies (King & Nuttle, 1999). With this package, six categories of decisions can be simulated: (a) merchandise assortments, (b) price promotions, (c) sourcing, (d) costs, (e) vendors, or (f) consumer demand. After entering key data and simulations are run, the software provides financial output measures, such as gross margin percent; gross margin return on investment; and inventory turns and customer sendee measures, such as in stock percent, lost sales percent, and service level. …

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