The determinants of effective computer mediated communication between lecturers and students at a tertiary education institution.
Ntombela, Nonhlanhla Fortunate.
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Computer Mediated Communication (CMC) is the transmission of data communication between individuals using two or more electronic devices. CMC provides digital platforms for one-on-one communication, conferencing and collaboration that is instantaneous. However, in the literature, there’s a lack of research that focuses on the interaction between lecturers and students through CMC in South Africa. Hence, there is a need for this study to understand the factors that influence an effective interaction between lecturers and students through CMC, and propose adequate strategies to foster such kind of interaction. In this study, an effective CMC interaction is defined as the behavioural intention to use CMC between a lecturer and a student that is perceived as prompt, professional and supportive by both the students and lecturers. The afore-mentioned constructs have been used to develop a conceptual model that guided the current study to investigate the determinants of the behavioural intention to use CMC between lecturers and students at a tertiary education institution, from the student’s perspective. The study made use of quantitative methods as its fundamental research approach. The study’s sample consisted of 276 students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. These students were surveyed using a closed-ended online questionnaire. From a research nomenclature perspective, the study’s theoretical constructs were identified as immediacy, professionalism and support which constitute the independent variables while intention to adopt/adoption of CMC has been labelled as the study’s dependent variable. The study’s main outcome revealed that the majority of students acknowledge the importance of immediacy, support, and professionalism in the facilitation of an effective CMC-based relationship. Empirically, the study confirmed a moderate, positive correlation between the constructs and students’ intention to adopt CMC as a conduit to achieving excellence in their studies. Evaluation derived from a structured equation modelling derivative of the original conceptual model revealed that the construct of support had more of a mediating influence on students’ intention to adopt a CMC-based learning approach. A concomitant outcome from the study was that a majority of the students preferred using CMC with academic staff than face-to-face communication, with a preference for technological platforms that support CMC based learning rather than general social media networking platforms. At the time that the study was conducted, the institution from which empirical data was collected had transformed to a remote/online learning approach that was necessitated by the Covid-19 pandemic. As a consequence, many of the study’s respondents had a natural preference for the video conferencing tool that was currently employed at the institution.