Factors affecting participant reactions to new training devices

                         Ellsworth, James Byron, IV; PhD

                         SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY, 1998
                         EDUCATION, TECHNOLOGY (0710); EDUCATION, VOCATIONAL (0747)

                         This study aimed to facilitate planning for introduction of training technology through greater knowledge
                         of 'what is important' to potential adopters, from students to training supervisors. Data were collected
                         primarily using interviews of 43 participants in the implementation of two instructional technology
                         innovations at an Army training installation. Triangulation was provided through document analysis and
                         limited participant-observation. Primary (qualitative) analysis yielded 20 codes describing considerations
                         that were important to participants as they decided to support or resist implementation. These concerns
                         included characteristics of the innovation itself, environmental conditions, and concerns associated with
                         particular points on the implementation timeline. A factor analysis was used to identify codes that
                         covaried. The resulting factors described six areas of concern shared by all participants: (1) Conflict
                         between the device or its proponents with needs, values, and beliefs, (2) Fear of change--or satisfaction
                         with the status quo, (3) Complexity--or difficulty using the device--due to isolation of users from the
                         development phase, (4) Fear of poor system quality resulting from technically unqualified leadership, (5)
                         Absence of required skills/knowledge among those who must actually implement the device, and (6)
                         Lack of clear goals and objectives due to isolation of users from the early phases of innovation
                         development. The extent to which these priorities were addressed accounted for 78% of variance in the
                         data. An initial hypothesis that participants' roles (learner, subject expert, etc.) influence what issues are
                         most important to them was confirmed by the findings. The nature of this effect was examined through a
                         discriminant analysis, and by sorting participants' data according to role and observing the differences in
                         the importance their comments attached to each factor and component. The discriminant function also
                         reclassified some participants under roles other than those they actually held, in a manner suggesting
                         that their comments reflected a previous role better than their current one. Further analysis of these
                         findings prioritized the six factors, based on the frequency and intensity of supporting comments and the
                         percentage of variance for which each accounts. Examination of setting-induced differences in the two
                         implementations further refined this scheme into a sort of 'Maslow's Hierarchy' of change factors,
                         suggesting a prerequisite structure of concerns worthy of further examination. Comparison with previous
                         diffusion studies showed widespread congruence with frameworks derived from other settings.
                         Differences reflected viewpoints more than substance, and illustrated key effects of the military training
                         environment. For example, the traditional idea of effectiveness was sometimes seen as a negative factor
                         because students (who are also soldiers) are expected to succeed in spite of hardships in the

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