The diffusion of innovation among community college peer mentors: Factors influencing adoption of email
Carol A. Welsh, Pepperdine University, United States
Pepperdine University . Awarded
This investigation used a single, descriptive, exploratory case study approach to investigate factors that influence community college peer mentors to adopt electronic mail as the primary mode of communication with their high school-aged mentees. Participants in this study included 17 E-mentors who used email for mentoring purposes and 28 who mentored face-to-face (f2f mentors). Four sources of data were used: personal surveys, focus group interviews, archival records and documents. Triangulation of data was used to answer the following research questions: (1) What differences, if any, exist between profiles of face-to-face peer mentors and E-mentors? (2) Based on Diffusion of Innovation and the theory of perceived attributes, which attributes, if any, influence a peer mentor's decision to adopt or reject email as a communication medium? (3) What online communication patterns can be identified among participants of the study?
There were more similarities than differences between E-mentors and f2f mentors. Most peer mentors were female, experienced college students, employed at least 11 hours per week, and of similar age. Most peer mentors used email to communicate with friends, family and instructors. The Computer Mediated Communication (CMC) tool used least often was the listserve. Peer mentors agree that it is critical to mentor face-to-face prior to becoming an E-mentor. Both groups agree that training should include computer technology skills as well as effective writing skills for interpersonal communication. There is an expectation that email can provide peer mentors with a CMC environment that is interactive, honest, supportive and respectful. Compatibility, complexity and relative advantage had the greatest influence on a peer mentor's decision to adopt or reject email for mentoring purposes. On the other hand, some f2f peer mentors see no compelling reason to adopt a technology that has not proven to be effective.
Differences existing between peer mentors groups included access to email and reported ethnicity. Access from home computers was preferred among E-mentors whereas f2f mentors access from the college. Caucasians represent the largest ethnic group among f2f mentors while E-mentors are predominately Hispanic/Filipino.
Welsh, C.A. The diffusion of innovation among community college peer mentors: Factors influencing adoption of email. Ph.D. thesis, Pepperdine University.
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