Effects of Basic Computer Training on the Self-Efficacy of Adult Learner’s Utilization of Online Learning

Effects of Basic Computer Training on the Self-Efficacy of Adult Learner’s Utilization of Online Learning

Gregory C. Petty (University of Tennessee, Knoxville, USA) and Iryna P. Loboda (University of Tennessee, Knoxville, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61692-906-0.ch034
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As more studies investigate the effectiveness of online instruction for adult learners it is important not to overlook the effects of computer self-efficacy of students. Online learning requires a certain level of computer skill for the student to be successful. This chapter explores the value and efficacy of basic computer training to improve the effectiveness of instruction in an online learning environment. Included is a review of self-efficacy related to online learning and the results of a quasi experimental study that reinforces the value of basic computer training for improving the adult learners’ self-efficacy.
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The purpose of this chapter is to develop a theoretical framework for studying the effects of computer self-efficacy and applying these results to online learning. There is evidence to suggest that computer training can be a significant factor in improved computer self-efficacy (Loboda, 2002; Karsten & Roth, 1998; Smith, 1994; Torkzadeh & Koufteros, 1994). Self-efficacy is the belief that one is capable of performing in a certain manner to attain certain goals (Ormrod, 2006). Psychologist Albert Bandura proposed the theory of self-efficacy to help explain how we approach goals, tasks, and challenges (Bandura, 1977). In other words, Bandura says that if you have high self-efficacy toward a task you are more likely to make more of an effort, and persist longer than those of a low self-efficacy (Bandura, 2001). Improving computer self-efficacy could help students perform better in online coursework.

As instructors strive to improve their efficiency and effectiveness, a possible instructional link has important implications for course design and the instructional development of basic computer training (Loboda, 2002). She further suggested that many adult learning programs require that students take a basic computer course that includes online instruction as a prerequisite to their program of studies. These courses are intended to provide learners with basic computer competencies necessary for their academic and professional work (Petty, 1999). At issue is whether these prerequisite courses have value in improving adult learners online course performance (Loboda, 2002).

Bandura (2001) introduced the theory of self-efficacy that the social changes or the agentic perspective from individuals’ self-development, adaptation, and self-renewal was a core feature of metacognitive ability of self-efficacy. He argued that rapid informational and technological advances in education place a premium on personal efficacy for academic achievements (Bandura, 2001). He further added that with the rapid technological changes we are experiencing in education, much of the knowledge we gain and technical skills we develop become quickly obsolete. Today information communication technologies provide innumerable educational opportunities. Unfortunately with these wonderful technologies are the dangers of failures and students need to be confident in their capabilities to control their own learning (Petty, Lim, & Zulauf, 2007). Persistent and self-confident learners are more likely to succeed in the academic life (Loboda, 2002).

As has been pointed out by many scholars the utilization of online instruction is becoming a common instructional method in adult education (Barnard, 1997; De-Verneil & Berge, 2000; Driscoll, 1999; Hill, 2000; Khan, 1997; Kirschner & Paas, 2001; Loboda, 2002; Molenda & Sullivan, 2000; Owston, 1997; Petty, 1999; Petty, Lim, & Zulauf, 2007; Worley, 2000). There has been a similar growth in the use of online in business and industry as well (Petty, Lim, & Zulauf, 2007). Many corporations, government agencies, and training organizations increasingly introduce online courses in their instruction delivery systems (McCarthy, 2002).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Computer Training: Instruction provided for the purpose of enhancing an individual’s ability to use computers for learning and functioning.

Self-Regulation: Behavior motivated and regulated by internal standards and self-evaluative reactions to people’s own actions.

Computer Self-Efficacy: Individuals’ belief of their capability to perform a specific computer task.

Outcome Expectancy: A belief that a given course of behavior will produce certain outcome.

Wiki: A wiki is a website that uses wiki software, allowing the easy creation and editing of any number of interlinked Web pages, using a simplified markup language. Wikis are often used to create collaborative websites, to power community websites, for personal note taking, in corporate intranets, and in knowledge management systems.

Intentionality: Proactive commitment to bring about a future course of action to be performed.

Social Cognitive Theory: Theory that explains human functioning through the model of mutual interactivity of behavior, personal factors, and environmental events.

Online Instruction Self-Efficacy: Self-appraisal of one’s capabilities to participate in online instruction, that is to perform instructional tasks that involve collaborative and individual learning activities over the Internet and World Wide Web.

Self-Efficacy: People’s judgments of their capabilities to organize and execute courses of action required to attain designated types of performances.

Web-Based Instruction: A hypermedia-based instructional program which utilizes the attributes and resources of the World Wide Web to create a meaningful learning environment.

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