Academic journal article Journal of Information Technology Education

Computer Anxiety in E-Learning: The Effect of Computer Self-Efficacy

Academic journal article Journal of Information Technology Education

Computer Anxiety in E-Learning: The Effect of Computer Self-Efficacy

Article excerpt


E-learning as a new paradigm for higher education has been steadily gaining support for the past ten years. Stakeholders at different levels, such as researchers, practitioners, and institutions, under stand the value of e-learning. This understanding has even been strengthened due to our difficult and trying present times and economical instability. In fact, e-learning today has become widely recognized as an environment to challenge face-to-face teaching altogether (Saade, 2007). Expected productivity gains, however, and benefits to students and academic institutions promised by the e-learning approach cannot be realized unless they are effectively used (Ivari & Ervasti, 1994; Saade & Kira, 2007). Additionally, acceptance, adoption, and satisfaction of the e-learning experience have been identified as a critical issue in its usage (Deci & Ryan, 1985).

Many theoretical frameworks have been used to measure technology usage satisfaction, acceptance, and adoption; however relatively few have been used in the e-learning context. The Technology Acceptance Model (TAM), for example, has been extensively used to understand technology adoption. The goal of TAM is "to provide an explanation of the determinants of computer acceptance that is in general, capable of explaining user behavior across a broad range of end-user computing technologies and user populations, while at the same time being both parsimonious and theoretically justified" (Davis, 1986, 1989; Davis, Bagozzi, & Warshaw, 1989).

In the context of e-learning, a student's 'likelihood of use' of a specific system (in this case the learning management system (LMS)) is jointly determined by their attitude toward using the system and perceived ease of use (PEU). This implies that the easier the system is to use, the greater will be the user's perceived self efficacy regarding their capacity to use the system comfortably. External variables used with TAM include individual differences, situational constraints, organizational characteristics, and system characteristics. TAM emphasizes the importance of how external variables can affect the students' internal decision process when it comes to using a learning management system within their educational institution. External variables affect perceived usefulness (PU) directly or indirectly through PEU since it influences the student's near-term perception of usefulness and, to the lesser extent, long-term (Compeau, Higgins, & Huff, 1999). Direct experience with an LMS, its characteristics (P. Y. K. Chau, 1996), and student prior experience and feeling about it determine the student's perception of ease of use of it (Lucas & Spitler, 1999). According to previous studies, efficacy and computer anxiety were all determinants of PEU (Gefen, Karahanna, & Straub, 2003a, 2003b; Gefen & Straub, 1997; Pedersen & Nysveen, 2003).

Learning management systems are designed to facilitate the learning process, and therefore their PEU is a necessity especially with first time users. Much effort has been devoted to creating user friendly interfaces, in recognition of the importance of PEU (Venkatesh & Morris, 2000). With web-based LMSs several studies have pointed out that factors relating to 'ease' with which information can be found on a web site and the 'ease' with which information can be understood affect web site's perceived ease of use (Lederer, Maupin, Sena, & Zhuang, 2000).

Motivated by previous anxiety-beliefs research work, we hope in this study to provide additional understanding of what mediating role computer self-efficacy (CSE) plays in the anxiety (ANX) and perceived ease of use (PEU) relationship. Our study involves 649 students made up of three groups that used an LMS over a period of one year (3 semesters). Prior research in information systems has investigated the constructs mentioned herein to understand individual reactions to computer systems (Agarwal & Karahanna, 2000; Howard & Smith, 1986; Venkatesh & Davis, 2000); however, few have used an LMS as the target technology and have directly compared and contrasted the mediating effect of CSE to understand its impact on the ANX-PEU relationship. …

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