|Australasian Journal of Educational Technology
2010, 26(3), 297-308.
Elementary school students' attitudes and self-efficacy of using PDAs in a ubiquitous learning context
Pei-Shan Tsai, Chin-Chung Tsai
National Taiwan University of Science and Technology
Ling Tung University
The purpose of this study was to develop an attitude and a self-efficacy survey of using PDAs in ubiquitous learning (u-learning) environments for elementary school students. The sample of this study included 414 third-grade to sixth-grade students (age 9-12 years) in Taiwan who had experience using PDAs for u-learning. The results indicate that the students, in general, had positive attitudes and adequate self-efficacy in terms of using PDAs for u-learning. Gender differences existed only in the students' self-efficacy of using PDAs for Internet related functions, with the male students expressing higher confidence in using PDAs for Internet-related functions than the female students. In addition, the students in lower grades (third and fourth-graders; age 9-10 years) tended to use PDAs more frequently and to have more positive perspectives of PDAs than the higher grade students (fifth and sixth-graders; age 11-12 years). Furthermore, for predicting students' attitudes toward using PDAs for u-learning, students' confidence in using PDAs for general purposes was more important than their confidence in using PDAs to perform Internet functions.
Comparatively more studies have explored the relationships between learners' attitudes and self-efficacy toward computers, the Internet and Internet based learning (e.g. Susskind, 2008; Torkzadeh, Thomas & Dyke, 2002; Peng et al., 2006; Wu & Tsai, 2006). For example, Wu and Tsai (2006) found that students' attitudes toward the Internet were correlated highly with their Internet self-efficacy. In other words, learners with higher self-efficacy regarding information technology may have more positive attitudes toward information technology. Therefore, these studies (e.g. Susskind, 2008; Torkzadeh et al., 2002; Peng et al., 2006; Wu & Tsai, 2006) also showed that learners' attitudes and self-efficacy regarding information technology have been important issues in educational research.
Moreover, wireless network-related technology (e.g. u-computing, wireless communications and sensor) and mobile devices has promoted the research issues, not only from e-learning to m-learning (mobile learning; Dyson, Litchfield, Lawrence, Raban, & Leijdekkers, 2009), but also from m-learning to u-learning (context aware, ubiquitous learning; Hwang, Tsai & Yang, 2008). Hwang et al. (2008) defined u-learning as providing the right content for the right learners, at the right time, in the right place and in the right context. The main characteristics of u-learning are: learners do not break off their learning; learners can access their documents from anywhere and at anytime; learners can get information immediately; learners can interact with others such as experts, teachers and peers, and learners can learn in real, authentic situations (Ogata & Yano, 2004). Numerous studies have developed u-learning systems with personal digital assistants (PDAs) as mobile devices, and have evaluated their effect on learners' performance (e.g. El-Bishouty, Ogata & Yano, 2007; Huang & Yang, 2009; Hwang, Yang, Tsai & Yang, 2009; Joiner, Nethercott, Hull & Reid, 2006). PDAs were defined as pocket computers combined with wireless networks and web technology, in order to carry and use the information resources of the Internet, anytime, anywhere (Churchill & Churchill, 2008; Tatar, Roschelle, Vahey & Penuel, 2003), such as Palm Company's Palm pocket computer and Hewlett-Packard Company's iPAQ pocket PC. According to the features of PDAs, these studies presented the interfaces of their u-learning systems, which are similar to those on web pages such as applying Internet-based tools in PDAs for supporting u-learning environments. Besides, Cheung and Hew (2009) indicated that mobile devices such as mobile phones and PDAs have the features of wireless access and are light enough to place in one's palm, and therefore might influence how learners learn. Therefore, the role of PDAs has attracted attention in u-learning environments because of their potential to enhance ubiquitous learning practice.
While learners may have more opportunities to learn by using PDAs in u-learning environments, their attitudes and self-efficacy regarding PDAs for u-learning should become an important research issue, just as they are in other learning environments. For example, Wang and Wang (2008) explored students' self-efficacy regarding mobile devices, such as PDAs and handheld computers for mobile computing. However, their instrument was designed for college or advanced students, not for elementary students. Besides, few studies have explored learners' attitudes and self-efficacy of using PDAs particularly for u-learning. As attitudes and self-efficacy of using PDAs for u-learning are relatively new issues and elementary school students have gradually become a group of u-learning users in Taiwan, investigating their attitudes and self-efficacy of using PDAs for u-learning is necessary for educational researchers.
Therefore, the purpose of this study was to develop a PDA Attitude Survey (PAS) and a PDA Self-efficacy Survey (PSS). Also, the relationships between students' attitudes to using PDAs for u-learning (called "PDA attitudes") and their self-efficacy of using PDAs for u-learning (called "PDA self-efficacy") were examined. The present study also analysed how some background variables, including gender, grade and Internet experience, have played a role in their attitudes and self-efficacy of using PDAs for u-learning.
By gathering questionnaire data from a group of elementary school students with experience in using PDAs for u-learning, the present study addressed the following research questions:
Hence, based on Tsai and Tsai's (2003) nine items and four new items, the initial version of the PSS included 13 items. Again, all of the items were undertaken in Chinese. The translation of items into English was completed by one of the authors, and the remaining authors validated the translation. In addition, the items were presented with bipolar strongly unconfident/strongly confident statements in a five-point Likert scale, from 1 (strongly unconfident) to 5 (strongly confident). That is, students with higher average scores on the PSS scales were more likely to have higher confidence in using PDAs for u-learning; on the contrary, those with lower average scores may express lower confidence in using PDAs for u-learning. A detailed description of the two scales is as follows:
|Factor 1: Perceived|
alpha = 0.88
|1.||In the u-learning environment, a PDA can help me to attain more ideas.||0.84|
|2.||In the u-learning environment, a PDA is helpful for my learning.||0.77|
|3.||In the u-learning environment, the materials are clarified when using a PDA.||0.77|
|4.||In the u-learning environment, a PDA can enhance my desire to learn.||0.74|
|5.||In the u-learning environment, a PDA provides me with another way to learn.||0.73|
|6.||In the u-learning environment, a PDA can allow me to do more interesting and imaginative work.||0.70|
|Factor 2: Affection,|
alpha = 0.84
|7.||In the u-learning environment, I hesitate to use a PDA because of my fear of making mistakes I can't correct.*||0.87|
|8.||In the u-learning environment, a PDA makes me feel uncomfortable.*||0.87|
|9.||In the u-learning environment, I feel bored using a PDA.*||0.76|
|10.||In the u-learning environment, I am not good at talking about the experiences of using a PDA.*||0.72|
|Factor 3: Behaviour, |
alpha = 0.86
|11.||In the u-learning environment, I hope to have regular time to use PDAs at school.||0.79|
|12.||In the u-learning environment, if I have the opportunity to use a PDA, I am willing to take it.||0.75|
|13.||In the u-learning environment, I hope to apply PDAs in various learning activities.||0.65|
|Factor 4: Perceived control, alpha = 0.55||14.||In the u-learning environment, I need an experienced person nearby when I use a PDA.*||0.78|
|15.||In the u-learning environment, I need someone to tell me the best way to use a PDA.*||0.75|
|16.||In the u-learning environment, I can use a PDA independently, without the assistance of others.||0.61|
|% of variance||36.90||17.24||8.96||4.98|
|Overall alpha = 0.83, total variance explained is 68%|
* Scored in a reverse way
Accordingly, the initial 26 items were reduced to 16 items. The internal reliability (alpha) coefficients of the three factors are 0.88, 0.84, 0.86 and 0.55, respectively; moreover, for the complete item set, the alpha coefficient is 0.83. However, Hatcher and Stepanski (1994) claimed that a Cronbach alpha coefficient can be recognised and accepted for statistical consideration even as low as 0.55. Therefore, these scales were deemed to be sufficiently reliable for assessing students' attitudes toward PDAs for u-learning.
In addition, to clarify the structure of the students' self-efficacy of using PDAs for u-learning, this study also applied exploratory factor analysis, principal component analysis with varimax rotation, to explore the factor structure among these items. An item within a factor was retained only when its loading was greater than 0.50 on the relevant factor, and less than 0.50 on the non-relevant factor. Table 2 presents the results derived from the factor analysis method, revealing two factors among the items, namely "Internet self-efficacy scale of using PDAs" and "general PDA self-efficacy scale", which accounted for 67% of the total variance explained.
|Factor 1: Internet self-efficacy of using PDAs, alpha = 0.89||1.||In the u-learning context, I think I can download a figure from the Internet using a PDA.||0.84|
|2.||In the u-learning context, I think I can copy content from the Internet and paste it into a document using a PDA.||0.83|
|3.||In the u-learning context, I think I can key in a website address to enter the website using a PDA.||0.78|
|4.||In the u-learning context, I think I can check a hyperlink to enter another website using a PDA.||0.75|
|5.||In the u-learning context, I think I know how to use a Web homepage like 'Yahoo!' using a PDA.||0.70|
|Factor 2: General PDA self-efficacy, alpha = 0.81||6.||In the u-learning context, I think I can read the content on the screen using a PDA.||0.84|
|7.||In the u-learning context, I think I can click the link or button to enter a new step using a PDA.||0.75|
|8.||In the u-learning context, I think I can know where I am using a PDA.||0.75|
|9.||In the u-learning context, I think I can enter words into a document using a PDA.||0.70|
|% of variance||54.25||12.76|
|Overall alpha= 0.89, total variance explained is 67%|
Accordingly, the initial 13 items were reduced to 9 items. The internal reliability (alpha) coefficients of the two factors are 0.89, and 0.81, respectively; moreover, for the complete item set, the alpha coefficient is 0.89. Therefore, these scales were deemed to be sufficiently reliable for measuring students' confidence in using PDAs for u-learning.
|Internet self-efficacy of using PDAs||5||3.75||1.08|
|General PDA self-efficacy||4||4.31||0.79|
Table 3 also presents the students' average scores and standard deviations of the PSS scales. The students scored higher on the general PDA self-efficacy scale. This implies that they tended to have high confidence in using the PDAs for general purposes.
|Perceived usefulness||4.07 (0.93)||4.17 (0.74)||-1.14|
|Affection||4.00 (1.07)||3.94 (1.01)||0.62|
|Behaviour||4.29 (0.91)||4.32 (0.84)||-0.43|
|Perceived control||2.96 (1.03)||2.81 (1.01)||1.51|
|Internet self-efficacy of using PDAs||3.90 (1.05)||3.60 (1.09)||2.79**|
|General PDA self-efficacy||4.37 (0.75)||4.25 (0.81)||1.47|
|** p < 0.01|
In addition, the t test also revealed that the students' scores on the PSS general PDA self-efficacy scale show a significant difference, as shown in Table 5. It was found that students in the lower grades tended to have statistically higher scores on the general PDA self-efficacy scale than the students in the higher grades. However, the students of different grades did not show different levels of confidence in using PDAs regarding Internet-related functions.
|Perceived usefulness||4.25 (0.74)||3.99 (0.90)||3.19**|
|Affection||4.06 (1.05)||3.88 (1.02)||1.72|
|Behaviour||4.43 (0.76)||4.18 (0.96)||2.98**|
|Perceived control||2.70 (0.97)||3.05 (1.04)||-3.60***|
|Internet self-efficacy of using PDAs||3.66 (1.10)||3.83 (1.05)||1.67|
|General PDA self-efficacy||4.39 (0.72)||4.23 (0.84)||2.14*|
|* p < 0.05; ** p < 0.01; *** p < 0.001|
|Scale||Less than 2|
|More than 2|
|Perceived usefulness||4.10 (0.83)||4.16 (0.86)||-0.60|
|Affection||3.96 (1.01)||4.01 (1.12)||-0.42|
|Behaviour||4.31 (0.86)||4.29 (0.94)||0.21|
|Perceived control||2.82 (1.01)||3.06 (1.04)||-2.09*|
|Internet self-efficacy of using PDAs||3.67 (1.08)||3.97 (1.05)||-2.45*|
|General PDA self-efficacy||4.32 (0.76)||4.27 (0.86)||0.48|
|* p < 0.05|
The t test revealed that Internet usage experience showed a significant effect on the PAS's perceived control scale and on the PSS's Internet self-efficacy scale of using PDAs. It was found that students with more experience of using the Internet tended to have higher scores on the scale of perceived control and Internet self-efficacy of using PDAs. That is, students' Internet usage experience enhances their confidence in controlling PDAs and using PDAs for Internet-related functions. However, the students' Internet usage experience was not related to the PAS's perceived usefulness, affection and behaviour scales or the PSS's general PDA self-efficacy scale.
|Internet self-efficacy of using PDAs||0.10||0.13**||0.08||0.30**|
|General PDA self-efficacy||0.27**||0.35**||0.24**||0.26**|
|** p < 0.01|
This study investigated the possible differences of attitudes and self-efficacy toward PDAs between male and female students, but no significant gender difference was found except for a difference in the self-efficacy of using PDAs for Internet-related functions. That is, the male students were significantly more confident in their use of the PDA Internet-related functions than the female students. Therefore, researchers should pay more attention to enhancing female students' confidence in operating PDAs for performing Internet-related functions.
Moreover, this study also revealed that the higher-grade students tended to have more confidence in their independent control of the PDAs than the lower-grade students, but on the contrary, the lower-graders tended to be more willing to use the PDAs, expressed more positive perspectives of the PDAs, and tended to be more confident in their use of PDAs for general purposes. It seems that the novelty of PDAs might attract younger students' attention.
Tsai et al. (2001) and Wu and Tsai (2006) indicated that students with more Internet usage experience tended to have more positive Internet attitudes. In addition, Eastin and LaRose (2000) indicated a positive relationship between Internet self-efficacy and Internet usage experience. Hence, this study also examined the Internet usage experience differences among students' attitudes and self-efficacy of using PDAs. It was revealed that students' Internet usage experience did not result in significant differences in their positive perspectives, feelings and willingness to use PDAs, or their confidence in using PDAs for general purposes. However, it was found that the students' Internet usage experience had a significant effect on their independence in using the PDAs, as well as in using the PDAs for Internet-related functions. This finding shows that increasing students' Internet usage experience may enhance their perceived control of using PDAs and their confidence in using PDAs for Internet-related functions. Future study is suggested to investigate the relationship between students' practical experience of using PDAs and their confidence in using them.
Moreover, this study explored the relationships between students' attitudes and their self-efficacy of using PDAs for u-learning. It was found that the students' confidence in using PDAs for general purposes was significantly positively correlated with their attitudes toward the PDAs, and the students' confidence in using PDAs for Internet functions was significantly positively correlated with their attitudes toward the PDAs, but only regarding their feelings and their perceived control of the PDAs. Therefore, when interpreting students' attitudes toward using PDAs for u-learning, their confidence in using them for general purposes is more important than their confidence in them for Internet functions.
Several studies have revealed that learners' attitudes and self-efficacy regarding information technology influence their usage, and therefore might influence how they learn and their learning performances (e.g. Susskind, 2008; Tsai & Tsai, 2003; Peng et al., 2006; Wu & Tsai, 2006). For example, Tsai and Tsai (2003) found that students with higher Internet self-efficacy may accomplish their tasks in a better way than students with lower Internet self-efficacy in an Internet-based learning task. Therefore, investigating students' attitudes and self-efficacy toward PDAs may be critical prerequisites for u-learning activities which use PDAs as mobile devices. In the future, studies may be conducted to explore how students' attitudes and self-efficacy toward PDAs influence their behaviours, learning processes and learning performances in u-learning activities. In addition, there is also a need for some training courses to improve elementary students' attitudes and self-efficacy regarding the use of PDAs for u-learning.
Chu, R. J. & Tsai, C. C. (2009). Self-directed learning readiness, Internet self-efficacy, and preferences for constructivist Internet-based learning environments among higher aged adults. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 25(5), 489-501.
Churchill, D. & Churchill, N. (2008). Educational affordances of PDAs: A study of a teacher's exploration of this technology. Computers & Education, 50(4), 1439-1450.
Dyson, L. E., Litchfield, A., Lawrence, E., Raban, R. & Leijdekkers, P. (2009). Advancing the m-learning research agenda for active, experiential learning: Four case studies. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 25(2), 250-267. http://www.ascilite.org.au/ajet/ajet25/dyson.html
Eastin, M. S. & LaRose R. (2000). Internet self-efficacy and the psychology of the digital divide. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 6(1). http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol6/issue1/eastin.html
El-Bishouty, M. M., Ogata, H. & Yano, Y. (2007). PERKAM: Personalized knowledge awareness map for computer supported ubiquitous learning. Educational Technology & Society, 10(3), 122-134. http://www.ifets.info/journals/10_3/9.pdf
Federico, P. A. (2000). Learning styles and students attitudes toward various aspects of network-based instruction. Computers in Human Behavior, 16(4), 359-379.
Hatcher, L. & Stepanski, E. J. (1994). A step-by-step approach to using the SAS system for univariate and multivariate statistics. Cary, NC: SAS Institute.
Huang, A. F. M. & Yang, S. J. H. (2009). Situational mashups for ubiquitous learning. International Journal on Digital Learning Technology, 1(3), 245-265. http://ijdlt.org/download.php?dir=papers&filename=00052010-02-_ijdlt3-6_.pdf
Hwang, G. H., Li, L. M., Lai, N. L., Wang, H. Y., Hong, P. J., Wu, J. R. & Chen, B. Y. (2009). Botanical garden navigation using adaptive u-learning system. In Proceedings of the 13th Global Chinese Conference on Computers in Education (GCCCE). Taipei, Taiwan, 25-28 May.
Hwang, G. H., Ye, J. H., Lin, K. Y., Peng, R. S. & Lyu, J. C. (2008). A library guide system combining mobile, sensing, and voice technologies and the influence factors' analysis of its usage satisfaction. In Proceedings of the International Conference on Computer and Network Technologies in Education (CNTE). Hsinchu, Taiwan, 30-31 October.
Hwang, G. J., Tsai, C. C. & Yang, S. J. H. (2008). Criteria, strategies and research issues of context-aware ubiquitous learning. Educational Technology & Society, 11(2), 81-91. http://www.ifets.info/journals/11_2/8.pdf
Hwang, G. J., Yang, T. C., Tsai, C. C. & Yang, S. J. H. (2009). A context-aware ubiquitous learning environment for conducting complex science experiments. Computers & Education, 53(2), 402-413.
Joiner, R., Nethercott, J., Hull, R. & Reid, J. (2006). Designing educational experiences using ubiquitous technology. Computers in Human Behavior, 22(1), 67-76.
Liaw, S. S. (2002). An Internet survey for perceptions of computers and the World Wide Web: Relationship, prediction, and difference. Computers in Human Behavior, 18(1), 17-35.
Ogata, H. & Yano, Y. (2004). Knowledge awareness map for computer-supported ubiquitous language-learning. In J. Roschelle, T. W. Chan, Kinshuk & S. J. H. Yang (Eds.), Proceedings of the 2nd IEEE International Workshop on Wireless and Mobile Technologies in Education, WMTE'04 (pp. 19-26). JungLi, Taiwan, 23-24 March.
Oral, B. (2008). The evaluation of the student teachers' attitudes toward Internet and democracy. Computers & Education, 50(1), 437-445.
Peng, H., Tsai, C. C. & Wu, Y. T. (2006). University students' self-efficacy and their attitudes toward the Internet: The role of students' perceptions of the Internet. Educational Studies, 32(1), 73-86.
Susskind, J. E. (2008). Limits of PowerPoint's power: Enhancing students' self-efficacy and attitudes but not their behavior. Computers & Education, 50(4), 1228-1239.
Tatar, D., Roschelle, J., Vahey, P. & Penuel, W. R. (2003). Handhelds go to school: Lessons learned. IEEE Transaction on Computer, 36(9), 58-65. [verified 10 May 2010] http://ctl.sri.com/publications/downloads/IEEEHandheldsGoToSchool.pdf
Torkzadeh, G., Thomas, P. & Dyke, V. (2002). Effects of training on Internet self-efficacy and computer user attitudes. Computers in Human Behavior, 18(5), 479-494.
Tsai, C. C., Lin, S. S. J. & Tsai, M. J. (2001). Developing an Internet attitude scale for high school students. Computers & Education, 37(1), 41-51.
Tsai, M. J. & Tsai, C. C. (2003). Information searching strategies in web-based science learning: The role of Internet self-efficacy. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 40(1), 43-50.
Wang, Y. S. & Wang, H. Y. (2008). Developing and validating an instrument for measuring mobile computing self-efficacy. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 11(4), 405-413.
Wu, Y. T. & Tsai, C. C. (2006). University students' Internet attitudes and Internet self-efficacy: A study at three universities in Taiwan. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 9(4), 73-86.
|Authors: Pei-Shan Tsai (author for correspondence)|
Graduate Institute of Engineering
National Taiwan University of Science and Technology
#43, Sec.4, Keelung Road, Taipei, 106, Taiwan
Graduate Institute of Digital Learning and Education and Graduate Institute of Engineering
National Taiwan University of Science and Technology
#43, Sec.4, Keelung Road, Taipei, 106, Taiwan
Email: email@example.com Web: http://www.cctsai.net/
Department of Information Technology
Ling Tung University
1, Lingtung Road, Taichung, 408, Taiwan
Please cite as: Tsai, P. S., Tsai, C. C. & Hwang, G. H. (2010). Elementary school students' attitudes and self-efficacy of using PDAs in a ubiquitous learning context. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 26(3), 297-308. http://www.ascilite.org.au/ajet/ajet26/tsai.html