Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Understanding Successful Use of Smartphones in an Academic Context: Hbcu Students' Perspective

Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Understanding Successful Use of Smartphones in an Academic Context: Hbcu Students' Perspective

Article excerpt


The focus of this study is students' evaluations of smartphones. A smartphone may be defined as a mobile phone with an operating system, and the abilities to allow its user to store information, access the Internet, and enhance its functionality by installing additional software applications (Peslak, et al, 2011). With the recent development of software applications and network connections, a smartphone can perform the functions of personal computers such as notebook and desktop computers. A smartphone can be used to do various things ranging from checking emails and taking notes to conducting research and writing papers (Smith, 2012). According to the Pew Research Center (2012), a growing number of Americans use smartphones to reach the Internet. Especially low income minorities are more likely use smartphones as a main means to access the Internet than other groups.

While some major challenges exist for smartphones, such as slower and less reliable connection, small screen, and applications with limited functions (Smith, 2012), smartphones are becoming an increasingly popular tool for education and business. For example, use of mobile devices has surpassed PCs in online shopping (Siwicki, 2013). Mobile devices can be used in finding stores, searching for coupons, and exchanging pictures of products as well as buying goods and sendees on the Internet. Likewise, smartphones have a profound impact on education (Elias, 2011). Smartphones make it possible for students to carry e-books, find answers quickly, improve communication with fellow students, and utilize audio and video materials for their education (Concordia Online Education, 2012; Chen and Denoyelles, 2013; Tossel, 2014).

Given this critical point, and the common use of smartphones for academic purposes, it is crucial to investigate students' evaluations of the success of these devices. Thus, contributing to researchers' and educators' understanding of students' evaluations of smartphones is a key motivation of this study. In addition, to our knowledge, this is the first such study in the context of a historically black college or university (HBCU) located in a metropolitan area.

Students attending such an HBCU tend to have different backgrounds than traditional college and university students. Often, these students work and are older than traditional students (Kwun, et. al., 2012). Thus, these students may have different evaluations of smartphones than those of more traditional university students. Thus, understanding evaluations of smartphones by students attending a metropolitan HBCU provides an additional motivation for this research.

The remainder of this article is structured as follows. The next section reviews literature relevant to investigating students' evaluations of smartphones, including De Lone and McLean's IS Success Model and literature on students' self-regulated learning. This section also presents the hypotheses tested in this study. Afterwards, this paper presents the method used for collecting and analyzing the study's data. Subsequently, the findings are presented and discussed. This article concludes with the implications of this study's findings, its limitations, and directions that future research may take.

Literature Review

Researchers (e.g., Freeze, et al., 2011 and Lee, 2009) seeking to investigate users' evaluations of information systems in educational context have frequently turned to the foundation provided by the information system success (ISS) model proposed and updated by De Lone and McLean (1992, 2003). Though the ISS model has been the subject of criticisms (e.g., Seddon, 1997), much support has been found for the relationships posited by the model. Of particular relevance to this study, a meta-analysis by Petter and McLean (2009) found overall support for the model's relationships at the individual level of analysis. These findings are particularly germane to this study, given smartphones are typically used by individuals, such as students. …

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