Faculty Scholarship 1994 - Present

Examining the Effects of Technology Attributes on Learning: A contingency Perspective

In today?s knowledge economy, technology is utilized more than ever to deliver instructional material to the learner. Nonetheless, information may not always be presented in a manner that maximizes the learning experience, resulting in a negative impact on learning outcomes. Drawing on the Task-Technology Fit model, a research framework was developed to investigate the influence of vividness, interactivity, task complexity, and learning style on performance, satisfaction, interest, and perceived mental effort in the context of learning how to use an office productivity tool via a computer-mediated learning environment. It was hypothesized that vividness and interactivity would increase satisfaction and interest and that the affects of vividness and interactivity on performance and perceived mental effort would vary depending on the complexity of the task. It was also hypothesized that vividness and learning style would interact to influence performance and perceived mental effort when a task was more complex. A laboratory experiment was employed to test the research model. The experiment manipulated two levels of vividness, interactivity, and task complexity, resulting in six unique treatment conditions. In each of these treatment conditions, subjects viewed a computer-based tutorial on how to complete a task using a specific tool in Microsoft Excel. Subjects were then asked to complete a similar task using this same Excel tool. Overall, strong support was found in support of the hypotheses. Findings indicate that presenting information in a more vivid or more interactive learning environment will significantly increase satisfaction with the learning environment as well as interest in the topic. Furthermore, strong support was found for utilizing a more vivid or more interactive presentation to increase performance and reduce perceived mental effort when a task is more complex. Mixed support was found regarding the influence of vividness and learning style on performance and perceived mental effort for a more complex task. This research contributes to our theoretical understanding of instructional design and the influence of technology characteristics on learning outcomes. These findings also serve to guide those who design and disseminate information in computer-mediated contexts. Moreover, multimedia production is both expensive and time consuming and, as this study indicates, may not always enhance learning outcomes.