Electronic mail: attitudes, self-efficacy, and effective communication
Kandies, Jerry T.
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The purpose of this study was (a) to investigate the functional use of e-mail in a university setting and the relationship of attitudes toward and self-efficacy with email technology, and (b) to evaluate writing effectiveness in an electronic medium. The study also sought to determine if certain personal characteristics could serve as predictor variables for explaining e-mail use, attitudes toward email, and self-efficacy with e-mail technology. The population of interest was the teaching faculty at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University who had a published e-mail address. A random sample of 500 faculty were sent a survey via campus mail. A total of 262 usable responses provided data for statistical treatment which included factor analysis and multiple regression. Additionally, 30 self-selected respondents provided copies of e-mail messages they had written. These messages were rated holistically for writing effectiveness, and the ratings were examined for their relationship with the extent of e-mail use, attitudes toward e-mail, and self-efficacy with e-mail technology. The items on the attitude toward e-mail scale clustered into two factors, "Usefulness," and "Comfort/Anxiety." The items on the e-mail purposes of use scale also clustered into two factors, "Task Use," and "Social Use." These factors were similar to the ones on the instruments from which this study's instrument was adapted. The results of the regression analyses indicated that several of the variables were significant predictors of e-mail use, attitudes toward e-mail, and self-efficacy with e-mail technology. An attitude of e-mail's usefulness and self-efficacy with e-mail technology were significant predictors of the extent of e-mail task and social use. Self-efficacy was a significant predictor of positive attitudes of usefulness and comfort. Age was a significant predictor of social use of e-mail as well as of a positive attitude of e-mail's usefulness. Years e-mail had been used was a significant predictor of the extent of e-mail use and of self-efficacy. Higher ranking teaching faculty had more positive attitudes of e-mail's usefulness. The results of analyses of holistic ratings indicate no significant correlations existed among the variables. Recommendations for instruction and for further research are described.
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