Exploring Factors Affecting Learner's Perception of Learning Information and Communication Technology: A HLM Analysis of a National Farmers' Training Program in Taiwan

By Yueh, Hsiu-Ping; Chen, Tzy-Ling et al. | Educational Technology & Society, January 2013 | Go to article overview

Exploring Factors Affecting Learner's Perception of Learning Information and Communication Technology: A HLM Analysis of a National Farmers' Training Program in Taiwan


Yueh, Hsiu-Ping, Chen, Tzy-Ling, Chiu, Li-An, Lin, Wei-Chien, Educational Technology & Society


Submitted June 14, 2011; Revised October 26, 2011; Accepted November 15, 2011)

Introduction

It is suggested that information and communication technology (ICT) can offer disadvantaged communities such as farmers, long recognized as mute victims of such "clusters of disadvantage", new solutions to a lack of developmental opportunities (Amirtham & Joseph, 2011). To promote application of ICT, providing appropriate training for practitioners is considered to be one of the most critical factors in their effective use of ICT (Holmes, 2009). In Taiwan, to help farmers use the Internet and ICT to improve their agricultural work and strengthen their competitiveness in agribusiness management, the Council of Agriculture in Taiwan (COAT) initiated a national Farmers' ICT Training program in 2002. Although the primary trainees are farmers, rural inhabitants are included as secondary subjects. Non-farming rural inhabitants are included mainly because one of the purposes of the training initiative is to enhance the ICT literacy of rural communities in Taiwan. In addition, these inhabitants are an important human resource available to farmers when they need extra hands or help during busy seasons. It is hoped that this program can increase the ICT literacy of both farmers and non-farming rural inhabitants. The primary focus of this study is the ICT training of farmers and other rural inhabitants in Taiwan, and the study employs data from the Farmers' ICT Training Database, a national ICT training survey.

Understanding what factors contribute to learner's perception of training effectiveness can help program planners develop an effective, useful, and beneficial training program. This paper describes the relationship among personal demographic characteristics of learners, organizational characteristics, and trainees' perception of learning ICT. Four criteria are used to measure trainees' perception of learning or training effectiveness of the ICT training program, including the perceived satisfaction, perceived usefulness, mastery of learning, and confidence of learning transfer.

In technology-related training literature, research on the influence of individual differences has always been a popular topic. Bartel and Lichtenberg (1987) revealed that highly educated workers have a comparative advantage with respect to their adjustment to and utilization of new technologies. Since specific experiences with technology are considered important for adoption and implementation of new types of technology, educated trainees can more easily learn to use a microcomputer and its accompanying software (Huffman & Mercier, 1991). Mathieu, Tannenbaum, and Salas (1992) proved the influence of education level on learning based on a model that takes into consideration the individual and situational influences on learning motivation and learning effectiveness. Morris (1994) also confirmed that personal attributes of participants can result in a positive influence on their learning in a computer course. An empirical research on extension programs conducted in Australia in 1996, which explored environmental concern and actions of farmers, indicated that farmwomen were better educated and more likely to be environmentally concerned; thus, it is suggested the related educational programs and training should be targeted at women (Geno, 2002). In summary, many studies have focused on individual differences in training research, and personal traits such as age, educational background, experience with specific software, overall computer experience, gender, and years of education are often considered (Bostrom, Olfman, & Sein, 1990; Sun, Tsai, Finger, Chen, & Yeh, 2008).

Prior studies also revealed the importance of a research focus on individual difference variables that are associated with learning about end-user software. Lee (1997) reported that computer or programming experts may have great technical skills but not be aware of certain aspects of adult learning characteristics when planning related training programs. …

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