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Employees’ Intention to Use Online Professional Development

Khalifa Elgosbi

Yousef Alshrari


December 2, 2016

Professional development helps to improve and support individuals’ skills and knowledge

about a variety of topics related to their careers. In general, the purpose is to get them to the level

that meets their workplace objectives and helps them maintain their self-confidence as

employees to complete the tasks required by their employers (Shaha & Ellsworth, 2013).

Professional development means, “the sum total of formal and informal learning experiences

throughout one’s career” (Fullan, 1991, p. 326).

Numerous studies have shown that online learning is almost as efficient as face-to-face

education (Alwadie, 2013; Busquets & Bernal, 2013). As indicated by a notable number of

studies, the online environment created a place that could be utilized to deliver professional

development for many sectors, such as businesses, health organizations, education centers, and

industrial cities (Vrasidas & Zembylas, 2004). Online professional development is defined as

providing training on “the internet as a means for delivering information and communication

between the trainer and the student” (Race, 2005, p. 9).

Although technology is widely used in academic environments to facilitate and improve

students’ performance and teacher’s professional development, it is still not popular in the

workplace environment due to the misunderstandings about the benefits of online learning in the

workplace environment. Perhaps workplace decision makers have not realized that technology is

an essential medium to make the content of professional development readily available online for

their employees. No matter how it is slowly gaining in popularity, especially in Saudi Arabia,

online professional development is still lacking full swing in workplace contexts (Hur & Im

2013; Yoo & Han 2013). Hence, this study investigates to what extent the attitudinal factors

(performance expectancy, effort expectancy, and social influence) predict employees’ behavioral

intention to use online professional development at King Abdullah Medical City in Saudi Arabia.

In the last two decades of research, there has been a considerable shift toward

investigating and exploring employees’ intention when adopting new technology for

development or training purposes (Rabak & Cleveland-Innes 2006; Vu, Cao, Vu, & Cepero

2014). Therefore, technology acceptance theories are required when we need to understand the

acceptance level among individuals and organizations of new technology (Bauer et al. , 2005).

According to Bagozzi (2007) , most of these theories are based on the psychological models that

have been used to capture the individual behavior in accepting new innovation. Prior to

implement any new technology, recognizing factors that might positively or negatively impact

the implementation of technologies are imperative. One of these factors is the intention of users

toward the technology before they use it (Min, Ji, & Qu , 2008). Thus, the Unified Theory of

Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT) is used in this study as a guide to examine

employees’ intention toward using online professional development. The UTAUT model was

founded by (Venkatesh, Morris, Davis, G. B., & Davis, F. D., 2003). According to Venkatesh et

al. (2003), there are three factors in the UTAUT model that can determine the intention to use

technology, namely performance expectancy, effort expectancy, and social influence. Whereas,

intention and facilitating conditions are direct factors of usage behavior. Numerous studies

showed that the UTAUT model can explain up to 70% of variance in the users’ acceptance

behavior (Venkatesh et al., 2003; Williams et al., 2009).

Literature Review

Workplace and eLearning

Kijsanayotin, Pannarunothai, and Speedie (2009) collected data concerning health IT

development in Thailand and they examined the adaption among “multiple levels of health-

related information systems including community health center (CHC) information systems” (p.

405). They wanted to know how the understanding of employees and organization affected

users’ acceptance of technology. Their survey was a questionnaire type and the survey question

targeted information about employees’ intention to adopt new technology. They used the

constructs of Venkatesh et al. (2003), model which measured the five variables, namely

performance expectancy, effort expectancy, social influence, facilitating conditions, and

voluntariness. The participants were randomly selected from 1607 community health centers

around 13 provinces in Thailand. Their analyses benefited from using an updated version of

SPSS multivariate analysis which utilized multiple regression, discriminant analysis, logistic

regression, and analysis of variance. The authors concluded that the factors predicting

employees’ acceptance consist of performance expectancy, effort expectancy, social influence,

facilitating conditions, and voluntariness, and they emphasized that performance expectancy is

the most significant factor. Finally, it was confirmed by the results of the study that the UTAUT

model was a valid research framework for investigating and exploring healthcare employees’

intention when adopting new technology for work or training purposes.

Similarly, Ching, and Hung (2011) conducted a study in which they aimed to measure the

influence of online learning and instruction on employees’ performance in Taiwanese corporate

and industrial sectors. They stated that their study was intended to compare online instructions to

face to face instructions in terms of effectiveness on learning achievement. Their study was a

quasi-experimental and they used pretest and posttest design to determine whether the treatment

used in the online learning instructions influenced the learning achievement of the participants.

The participants were randomly selected from employees of Taiwanese company called Yu-Yi

Ltd. Co. They utilized “The Online Technologies Self-Efficacy Scale (OTSES) and Self-

Efficacy Toward Classroom Learning instrument” (p. 460) as their pretest and posttest

instrument for collecting the needed data. The findings of their study indicated significant in the

relationships between computer experience and socioeconomic status; however gender and self-

efficacy did not show significant relationship. According to Ching, and Hung (2011), this can be

explained in terms of the strong impact of online learning on learner performance in professional

development programs. The results of this study were consistent with previous research

regarding the notions of satisfaction having positive relationship with self-efficacy and computer

experience being related to social economic status.

Moreover, Karaaslan (2013) conducted study to examine the implementation of bank

personnel professional development in Turkey through eLearning and use of information

technology. The study included the investigation of how eLearning would help minimize the cost

and expenditure to meet the changing condition of social economic challenges. The author

departed from the question whether eLearning can impact bank employees’ performance in the

workplace and the hypotheses that gender and frequency of training programs will affect

attitudes of the employees toward professional development. In this study, the researcher

included 100 bank employees, both male and female, in the sample. Quota sampling technique

was used to target all the population of bank employees as his target population, then participants

were giving equal chance to participate in the study. The author stated that the independent

variables were age, gender, educational level, profession, and division of work; whereas, the

dependent variables included the participants attitudes and achievement of performance. The

analyses showed that 75% of the participants were aware that online professional development

was essential for improving their job performance. In addition the study indicated that frequency

of using the electronic professional development for training purposes resulted in high

percentages in creating job satisfaction among the employees. The participants also highlighted

the significant of online professional development as being a flexible tool for the on job training

in terms of place and time. Although the author did not mention any limitation, it seems that the

small sample size might be considered as a concern when looking at the results.

Also, Kyalo and Hopkins (2013) conducted a study to investigate online professional

development and employees’ acceptance in a medical training center of an East African country.

Of the target population which was 700 employees, they selected 120 participants for their data

collection procedures. Their survey included demographical information and variables related

usefulness and ease of use. The authors used TAM model as their theoretical framework because

they wanted to measure their participants’ attitudes toward the use of online professional

development. The described the training center in which they carried their study as being the

largest in East and Central Africa, with more than 50 different medical and health courses and

providing training services for about 14000 trainees from different regions in Africa. The

purpose of the study was to examine attitudes of employees about online professional

development as compared to traditional classroom training. Their research design was a mixed

method which included both a quantitative survey and qualitative focus group discussions.

According to the authors, this research design was used to fortify the results of the study and the

data which they collected was covering the variables of “socio-demographic characteristics, user

rate of OL, perceived usefulness of OL, and beliefs, experiences and attitude towards online

learning as a tool for continuous professional development” (p. 85). The authors concluded that

their study revealed significant levels of satisfaction toward online professional development

among the participants despite the fact that technology provision and delivery modes are still

evolving in Kenya, where online professional development is suffering from high rates of

dropout from courses.

Seraphim (2010) conducted a study to examine factors that affecting employees’

adoption and confrontation to use online professional development at one of the Greece bank

referred to as ‘the Bank’. The author also investigated participants’ perceptions toward online

learning based on their demographical information such as age, marital status, educational level,

and job position at the bank. She assumed that defining causes that impact employees’ views

about online learning, would provide essential information to instructional designers when

creating or redesigning online courses that will meet their trainees’ needs. The author mentioned

that there were four online courses that being offered by the bank to its employees. These

courses are “a) Mortgage loans b) Prevention of money laundering and terrorism financing c)

Investment Services d) Retail banking” (p. 110). These courses were available to employees only

through the bank intranet service meaning that employees have no access to the online training

outside the bank. There are a number of factors that undergone this study to access employees’

interests and obstacles of online learning, namely “technology b) time c) interaction/support d)

reward/recognition.” (p. 112). The author used a mixed methods in her study to get an in depth

understanding of employees’ views about the online learning course that has been offered to

them at the bank for a short while. She sent out a survey questionnaire to 300 employees and out

of the 300 only 104 participants had fully completed the online survey. The author used SPSS

and analyzed the data using chi-square test. Then interviews were conducted on some employees

based on their demographical information. The author concluded that employees have a positive

perceptions and had no problem using online learning at their workplace. Participants have

indicated that they have relatively enough experience using computers and surfing the internet to

improve their professional development. Also, the author mentioned that the results of this study

were confirmed with other previous studies that admitted that participants’ opinion about

computer and internet usage are important. The researcher mentioned that the online courses

offered by the bank need some enhancement to allow for more participation for employees. The

author also stated out that interruption from colleagues during the online course session was one

of the barrier that most participants faced with online learning. Finally, the author stated that this

study could not be generalized to other banks in Greece and recommended to replicate this

research with a large sample number from different banks in the area.

The demand for incorporating online learning in the corporate environment is increasing.

Due to the fact that employees need to be up-to-date with job related skills and knowledge, many

organizations conduct training policies for developing the potential of their manpower. This

literature review showed the importance of online learning in the workplace environment to

improve employees’ professional development aspects. It also showed how eLearning would

help minimize the cost and expenditure to meet the changing condition of social economic

challenges (Hur & Im 2013; Karaaslan, 2013; Yoo & Han 2013).

Also, research studies stressed the importance of employees’ awareness, self-

determination, engagement and enablement as factors for successful online professional

development. The results of many research studies indicated the relationship between these

factors and employees’ attendance and participation in online training programs. It is worth

noting here that this synthesis did not include all the possible factors due to paucity of studies in

this area. Therefore, some researchers recommended that the aspect of cultural perspectives

should be further examined to identify more factors related to the successful implementation of

online professional development (Karaaslan, 2013; Hur & Im, 2013; Rabak & Cleveland-Innes

2006; Vu, et. al 2014).



The research sample of this study included (n=146) participants currently working as

employees in King Abdullah Medical City. The response rate was 96.6 %, which represents the

number of 141 respondents who completed and returned the electronic survey. The sample

included 36 (25.5%) females and 78 (55.3%) males; whereas, 28 (19.8%) of the respondents

prefer not to answer the gender question. The age of the participants ranged between the 18 and

55 years old. As to the participants educational level, 30 % percent of the participants have a

bachelor degree. All participants knew in advance that participation in this study is voluntarily

and being assured that their information will stay anonymous.

Research Design

This study is a non-experimental survey design aiming to investigate the predictability of

three attitudinal factors (constructs of UTAUT theory) if used to determine employees’

behavioral intention to use online professional development (Venkatesh et al., 2003). As defined

by Creswell, (2015) “Survey research designs are procedures in quantitative research in which

investigators administer survey to a sample or to the entire population of people to describe the

attitudes, opinions, behaviors, or characteristics of the population” (p. 367).

Therefore, the researchers utilized a Five-Likert-scale survey with 15 items, adapted from

Venkatesh et al. (2003), after adjusting it so that it contains the three main constructs of the

UTAUT model (performance expectancy, effort expectancy, and social influence) as the

independent variables, which are considered continuous. The dependent variable of this study

was employees’ behavioral intention to use online professional development. Employees’

behavioral intention is used as continuous variable to measure the scale of participants’

responses. The research question designed for this study is: to what extent do performance

expectancy, effort expectancy, and social influence predict employees’ behavioral intention to

use online professional development? Based on the research question the researchers developed

two hypotheses, namely the null hypothesis and the alternative hypothesis:

H0= There is no relationship between the attitudinal factors and employees’ behavioral intention

to use online professional development.

H1= There is a relationship between the attitudinal factors and employees’ behavioral intention

to use online professional development.


Convenience sampling was used in this study because participants were “willing and

available to be studied” (Creswell, 2015 p. 145). Employees’ emails were obtained from the

internal website of the medical city. Using Quartlics survey application, the researchers created

an electronic survey. The researchers generated a survey link and sent it to the selected

participants through email service.


An updated version of SPSS was used to statistically analyze the data gathered by means

of the survey. To answer the research question of this study, multiple regression was used to

evaluate how the independent variables can explain the percentage of variance to predict

employees’ intention to use online professional development.


First the data were screened for any missing values and outliers. The results showed there

were less than 5% missing values of the data and some outliers with two extreme values. To

overcome this issue we changed the cases to the next-highest scores plus one. As for the missing

values, the percentage of the missing values is (3.4%) to the total values in the study indicated

that the percentage of the missing values is non-problematic issue to the data and no need to use

the hot-deck imputation or other techniques to fix the missing values. Finally and before doing

the linear regression, the scores of the three independent variables (performance expectancy,

effort expectancy, and social influence) were computed using mean.

The histogram of the dependent variable showed a normal distribution which indicate

that the assumption of normality of residuals is been met. However, the Kurtosis is evident

because it is more than 2.58. By looking at the Scatterplot, we can say that the homoscedasticity

assumption has been met and not violated. It showed equal variance throughout the Scatterplot.

Looking at the Model Summary table (shown in table 3), we can conclude that 68.8 % of

the variance can explain employees’ intention to use online professional development. These

results indicated that performance expectancy, effort expectancy, and social influence were

significant predictors of employees’ behavioral intention to use online professional development,

F (3, 137) =100.808, p < 0.001. R2 .688. Since F statistics assess the ratio of the mean square of

the regression to the mean square of the residual. F = 100.880 showed that the ratio of systematic

variance to unsystematic variance was considered to be high. From the ANOVA table, we can

see that there is a significant relationship between the attitudinal factors and employees’

intention, p value is less than .001. Thus, according to the alpha criterion (alpha=.05) we reject

the null hypothesis.

Finally, to check for excessive multicollinearity, we looked at the Coefficients table to

assess the values of tolerance and VIF. Statistically speaking, it can be concluded that there is no

multicollinearity violation because tolerance values are above 0.1 and VIF values are below 10.

We can see that effort expectancy and social influence were significant factors in predicting

employees’ behavioral intention with p < .001. Performance expectancy, on the other hand, did

not significantly predict employees’ intention with p = .152, which is larger than the alpha level

of .05.


This study was designed to investigate which of the (UTAUT) attitudinal factors

significantly predict employees’ behavioral intention to use online professional development.

The findings of this study pointed out that employees’ behavioral intention can be predicted by

two significant factors which are effort expectancy and social influence with (p < .001). These

results are consistent with previous research, which indicated that employees’ behavioral

intention can be predicted by effort expectancy and social influence (Kijsanayotin et al., 2009).

These factors are considered to be the most significant factors in the UTAUAT model, which

were highly used by researchers to measure intention. Although the factor of ‘performance

expectancy’ was not significant in this study, it was a significant factor to determine the intention

in a previous study (Yoo & Han 2013). According to Venkatesh et al. (2003), the constructs of

UTAUT model can explain the variance of employees’ behavioral intention to use online

professional development by 70%. This study also showed that effort expectancy and social

influence variables were the most influential factors in determining employees’ behavioral

intention to use online professional development. What is interesting in the findings of this study

is the striking similarity between this study and the findings of Venkatesh et al. (2003), with very

close percentages in both studies, namely 68.8% and 70%.

Implication and Future Research

Overall, this study found that employees’ effort expectancy and social influence were significant

factors to predict employees’ intention to use online professional development in the workplace

environment. This study can provide workable implication for decision makers and instructional

designers to consider these factors before implementing online professional development for

their employees. We expect that these factors will help in determining the acceptance level

among employees to use online training at Prince Abdullah Medical City. Future research is

recommended to include performance expectancy and facilitating condition to measure the actual

use of online training with a larger sample size.


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