A Study of the Relationship between PEOU and PU in Technology Acceptance in E-Learning

A Study of the Relationship between PEOU and PU in Technology Acceptance in E-Learning

Vincent Cho (Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong) and Humphry Hung (Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-378-4.ch010
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Abstract

In models to study technology acceptance, the empirically validated path from perceived ease of use (PEOU) to perceived usefulness (PU) is usually rationalized by the argument that the less effort it is required to use a technology, the more useful the technology is. This argument is rather generic to fully account for the relationship between PEOU and PU. In this study we examine the effects of the common antecedents of PEOU and PU on their relationship. We first extensively reviewed the literature to identify the common antecedents of PEOU and PU. We then conducted a survey of users’ acceptance of some common e-learning forums such as ICQ, WebCT, and MSN. Based on variance analysis we found that user-interface design (UID) explains 43% of the relationship between PEOU and PU, and that learners consider UID very important in deciding whether to accept an e-learning forum for their learning and communication. This chapter contributes to research by identifying the factors that account for the relationship between PEOU and PU, and provides e-learning developers with managerial insights on how to leverage UID for business success.
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Theoretical Framework

Most past studies on technology acceptance were based on TAM, and substantial theoretical and empirical supports have accumulated in favour of TAM (Davis, 1989; Davis et al. 1989). The two fundamental constructs in TAM are PEOU and PU. PEOU deals with how easy it is to learn and use a system (Davis, 1989), while PU focuses on whether the user believes that the system would enhance his/her performance (Davis, 1989). First, people tend to use or not to use a system or a technology based on the extent they believe it will help them perform their job better. Second, even if potential users believe that a given system is useful, they may, at the same time, feel that the system is too hard to use and that the performance benefits of usage are outweighed by the effort of learning and using the system. All else being equal, the easier it is to interact with a system, the less effort is needed to operate it, and so one can allocate more effort to other activities, contributing to overall job performance (Davis, 1989). This provides the theoretical link between PEOU and PU. However, this argument is too generic to fully account for the PEOUPU relationship. We attempt to identify the mechanism that links PEOU to PU via examining a common antecedent of PEOU and PU, i.e., UID.

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