The use of mobile devices for learning in post-primary education and at university
: Student attitudes and perceptions

  • Una Lynch

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


A new paradigm of placeless and timeless access to technologies encouraging a movement from electronic to mobile access of services and resources (Lehner, Nosekabel & Lehmann, 2002) through mobile learning has been gaining momentum in education. There is a growing body of research investigating the impact of mobile devices in combination with wireless technologies and if they can provide for a new approach to education(Craig and Van Lom, 2009). Gikas and Grant (2013) highlight the growth in use and importance of mobile wireless devices on university campuses. This has contributed to the escalation of student options and learning experiences both on and off campus and a need for the higher education sector to meet prospective student digital demands and expectations of a quality learning experience (Garrison and Kanuka, 2004).

Adequate support and resource provision of information technologies to maximise student skills and experiences is essential (Anagnostopoulou and Parmer, 2010). Much e-learning research has focused primarily on the practitioner perspective and design of e-learning materials with a definite disregard for the learner’s view (Conole et al., 2006). The successful integration and implementation of technology in teaching and learning requires an understanding of student attitudes and acceptance of technology (Davis, 1993). The goal of this mixed method research inquiry was to investigate in Phase I the attitudes and perceptions of upper-sixth post-primary level users and in Phase II the attitudes and perceptions of first year undergraduate students’ to the use of mobile devices for learning. Phase II introduced a longitudinal element interrogating first year undergraduate student attitudes at three points during the academic year. This provided the researcher with data from students’ use of the mobile device at two distinct levels of education.

The data gathered has been analysed, evaluated and discussed through the lens of the extended Technology Acceptance Model (TAM2). TAM measures users’ perceptions of Usefulness, Ease of Use, Attitude to Use and Intention to Use and the model is extended through the introduction and measurement of external variables Perceived Resources and Perceived Media Richness. In Phase I post-primary student attitudes (n = 579) have been derived from a quantitative data collection method: a closed survey of upper-sixth level students followed by qualitative data collection through focus group sessions.

In Phase II, three closed surveys of first year undergraduate students were introduced at the beginning of semester one (n = 1,162) and the end of semester one and two (n = 190). The data obtained from these collection methods has been analysed and interpreted based on three key questions, which stem from the aim of the inquiry:

Is there a relationship between students’ perceptions of Resources, Usefulness, Ease of Use, Attitude and Use of a mobile device?

Is there a relationship between students’ perceptions of Media Richness, Usefulness, Ease of use, Attitude and Use of a mobile device?

Is there a relationship between students’ perceptions of Usefulness, Ease of Use, Attitude and Use of a mobile device?

Knowledge is acquired and transformed when users interact socially and the use of mobile technologies in teaching and learning contexts can aid this if integrated successfully taking into account the social and cultural factors involved (Keengwe and Bhargava, 2014). The design for long-term effective persistent use of new technologies will present challenges for educational institutions and this study aims to address Information Technology (IT) knowledge, research and educational policy and practice.Overall, the study results confirm the acceptability of the extended technology acceptance model and provides an informative representation of the mechanisms which influence user acceptance of mobile device use for learning and should therefore be helpful in applied contexts for forecasting and evaluating user acceptance of the mobile device. Implications for future research and practice are discussed.

Date of AwardDec 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SponsorsQueen's University Belfast
SupervisorPamela Cowan (Supervisor) & Caitlin Donnelly (Supervisor)


  • Mobile learning
  • e- learning
  • post-primary
  • university student attitudes
  • perceptions
  • post-primary, university student attitudes, perceptions,
  • mobile devices
  • technology
  • technology enhanced learning
  • ICT
  • tool for learning
  • teaching and learning
  • digital literacy skills
  • formal, informal learning
  • communication
  • collaboration
  • technology acceptance model
  • perceived resources
  • perceived usefulness
  • perceived ease of use
  • intention to use
  • media richness theory
  • challenges
  • school
  • home
  • factor analysis
  • focus groups
  • mixed method approach
  • pragmatism

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