URM and Non-URM Students in Online Courses: Student Perceptions and Adoption Intentions at a Hispanic Serving Institution

URM and Non-URM Students in Online Courses: Student Perceptions and Adoption Intentions at a Hispanic Serving Institution

Becky Gail Sumbera, Carmen Beck, Miranda M. McIntyre, Jesus Canelon
Copyright: © 2022 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/IJAET.313436
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Currently, the literature provides some coherent evidence of what underrepresented minority (URM) students perceive they need to be successful, as well as what researchers empirically find important for URM student success. However, while success factors overlap with adoption factors, online course adoption is also affected by several important non-success factors such as flexibility. Adoption patterns of URM students have not been coherently studied using a well-tested technology adoption model. This study applies an expanded unified theory of acceptance and use of technology (UTAUT) model to address these gaps. Among a sample of 1231 students, URM students perceived online classes to require more effort to achieve lower grades relative to non-underrepresented students. Second, a narrower set of factors predicts URM students' intention to take online courses in the future. Finally, contextually, URM students are 46% more likely to be employed, first-generation students, and have substantial family responsibilities than non-URM students.
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Online learning use in the U.S. had been increasing several percent a year for over a decade (Seaman, Allen, & Seaman, 2018; Zawacki-Richter & Naidu, 2016) prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, when health lockdowns moved most instruction online for intermittent periods of time (Dumont et al., 2021). While it is certain that online use will abate as health issues return to normal, there is little doubt that the long-term trajectory has bent upward because of increased student and faculty exposure to online courses, technology advances (i.e., videoconferencing & Web 2.0 tools), and increased institutional support. A primary goal of this study is to examine online course adoption patterns in a Hispanic-serving institution.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2021) reports a steady increase in the Hispanic population. Based upon projections about the growth of the Hispanic population, the U.S. Department of Labor (2021) predicts that Hispanics will be the dominating workforce accounting for 78% of the net gain in the U.S. labor market between 2020 and 2030. However, at the same time, the U.S. Department of Education (2021) reports that only 20.6% of Hispanics, 41.9% of Whites, and 28.3% of African American hold a bachelor's degree and higher. Even with these evident disparities, there has been limited research on the effect of online education at Hispanic-serving institutions (HSI).

Hispanics are reported to enroll in online courses at a lower rate compared to other students in a number of studies (Arbelo, Martin, & Frigerio, 2019; Koenhke, 2013; Linton et al., 2021). This trend suggests that concerns with social integration, online readiness, self-efficacy issues and course design, among other factors, may hinder their motivation to enroll in an online learning environment (Mese & Sevilen, 2021; Johnson & Galy, 2013; Markle, 2015; Wozniak, Pizzica, & Mahony, 2012). However, flexibility is among the top reasons Hispanic students enroll in online classes (Stewart et al., 2004; Grimes, 2002; Vielma & Brey, 2021) and low self-efficacy is among the most prevalent reasons for not taking online courses (Alhothali et al., 2022; Nur et al., 2022).

Student context—largely functioning as antecedent conditions to adoption factors—affect online learning differently as well. The focus in this study is racial and ethnic minority status where it has been shown to be important (Hamilton et al., 2018). Examples of context factors include family-related, school-related, and social factors. The three factors this study focuses on are family responsibilities, first-generation status, and employment status in an institution designed to serve underrepresented minority students (URM).

URM students are from groups who have been traditionally underrepresented in education, such as racial/ethnic minorities, first-generation college students, and students from lower socio-economic households. The majority of the URM students in the study sample were Hispanic and first-generation status.

Students’ perceptions of their courses positively and negatively relate to academic performance, motivation, and engagement intention (Cohen & Baruth, 2017; Nur et al., 2022; Traynor-Nilsen, 2017; Wood, 2020). URM students frequently lack varied academic experiences as compared to non-URM students, contributing to students’ deficit-based perceptions of online learning. This study will use a technology adoption model to explore the differences between URM and non-URM students’ perceptions and adoption intentions.

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