Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Theory of Planned Behavior and Teachers' Decisions regarding Use of Educational Technology

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Theory of Planned Behavior and Teachers' Decisions regarding Use of Educational Technology

Article excerpt

Problem Statement and Theoretical Foundation

It is generally accepted that the use of technology in schools has altered, and continues to transform the educational landscape dramatically, fueling changes in content, pedagogy, and assessment (US DOE, 2004). In order to capitalize on the potential benefits of technology in the classroom, governments throughout the world have instituted initiatives intended to increase its use (e.g., Rha & Yoshida, 2005; US Web-based Education Commission, 2000).

These initiatives generally recognize the need for effective, continuous teacher development programs designed to help teachers integrate technology into their teaching. However, most recommendations focus mainly on teacher competence with technology. For example, according to the US Web-based Education Commission (2000), teachers must be, "able to apply it [technology] appropriately, and conversant with new technological tools, resources, and approaches (p. 39)."

We will argue that teachers' competence is only one of several factors determining their decisions regarding the use of educational technology. Other influences might include the value they attribute to the use of technology. Regardless of their perceived self competence, teachers may not use technology if they do not value it in their teaching. Another possible influential factor is the opinions of significant others. If, for example, a teachers' supervisor strongly promotes the use of technology in the classroom, this teacher might be inclined to please the supervisor by using technology, despite any perceived personal incompetence or uncertainly of the value.

As a result, designing professional development programs without taking into account other factors limits their potential impact. Moreover, monetary decisions regarding support for technology initiatives must be based on consideration of all factors that determine teachers' decisions to use educational technology. Finally, from a research perspective, it is important to establish the extent to which empirical findings support intuition or conventional wisdom. What then are the primary factors that underlie teachers' intentions to utilize technology in their classrooms, and what are their relative strengths?

Icek Ajzen's (1985) Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB), an explanatory model for a wide variety of behavioral intention, can be used to address this question. According to the TPB, volitional human behavior is immediately preceded by intention to engage in this behavior (see Figure 1). Behavioral intention is predicted, in turn, by three main determinants: attitude toward the behavior (AB), subjective norm (SN), and perceived behavioral control (PBC). The extent to which individuals view a particular behavior positively (attitude), think that significant others want them to engage in the behavior (subjective norm), and believe that they are able to perform the behavior (perceived behavioral control), serve as direct determinants of the strength of their intention to carry out the behavior.

Each of these three direct determinants of behavioral intention is influenced, in turn, by an indirect determinant. Indirect determinants are based on a set of salient beliefs and evaluations of these beliefs. Measures of the indirect determinants embody expectancy-value theory (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975). This theory posits that attitudes are developed and revised according to assessments about beliefs and values. This idea was applied to the calculation of the three indirect determinants of the TPB as follows (Ajzen, 1985):


Salient behavioral beliefs (BB) about the outcomes of a particular behavior, weighted by their outcome evaluations (oe), form an indirect measure of an individual's attitude toward the behavior (ABI). Salient normative beliefs (NB) about whether important others approve of the behavior, weighted by the motivation to comply (mc) with these perceived norms, constitute an indirect measure of subjective norm (SNI). …

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