Pilot Research Study: The Impact of Internet on Education for Students

Introduction

Internet can be regarded as one of the devices that can be utilized to survey and obtain more facts on any topic. These days, the internet has made contemporary life so relaxing. By a single click, information would be availed to an individual. The internet has a major responsibility as regards to education. Many scholars consider internet as an instrument of their schoolwork. They would acquire more information concerning any subject from the internet as opposed to using course books. Several websites are accessible, which provides students with online tuitions. Part time studies have turned out to be the students’ favourite due to the internet. Many academies and institution of higher learning have established online distance teaching. With the assistance of this online service, lectures can be carried out online and students can hand in their projects and course work with the aid of internet that is, via mails.

Main body

Objective: Students can now access information through the internet without necessarily depending on their teachers or textbooks. The aim of this paper is to establish the relationship between the internet and the quality of education gained by students.

Research Question: Does the internet add any value to the quality of education in the institutions of higher learning? In other words, what is the attitude of students towards the usage of the internet?

Literature Review

It is established that the internet affects students in many ways. This section will only focus on how the internet affects students in terms of academic performance. It is known that students are affected differently. Barrett and Lally (1999, p. 56) conducted a study to establish the attitudes and motivations regarding the internet. They found out that students are motivated and inspired by the internet to come up with new knowledge. In their study, students perceived the internet to be an effective tool of learning since 92% of them supported the use of internet. The scholars compared the results of students who embraced the internet in their studies with the results of those who did not use the internet at all in their studies. The findings favoured those who used the internet since their chances of success academically were very high. Students who used the internet in their studies had confidence in terms of conducting private research and analyzing topics methodically. However, it should be noted that the use of internet in schools should be integrated well into other classroom activities.

Other scholars, such as Passing and Levin (2000, p. 64) have analyzed the effects of the internet on the grade and quality of education. The scholars conducted an extensive research by evaluating standardized score tests of learners from eight institutions of higher learning. They found out that the internet improved the results of students randomly, meaning that not all internet users recorded high results. Furthermore, the results showed that students performed well in a few subjects. This showed that the internet could only better results in specific subjects. From the same study, students who used the internet to conduct research recorded high scores as compared to those who used textbooks. Those who used the internet could decorate their coursework with graphics and other features such as graphs, which could add more information to particular topics (Kerr 2000, p. 78).

According to diffusion theory, students would adopt the use of internet in their learning processes differently. In this sense, the internet is a medium that is unique in terms of communicating important information. Rodgers applied the theory to understand how consumers behaved in the market. He noted that the theory has four elements including modernization, communication conduits, time and collective system. The theory shows that not all members of a given society will adopt a particular technology at the same. Therefore, categorization of customers is important. In the same way, students can be categorized into various classes, depending on their ability to adopt the new technology.

Research Approach and Philosophy

This research will take a deductive approach that will entail the researcher working from a known hypothesis that the internet affects positively students in terms of their performance in class. Thus, the study takes a top down approach as compared to the inductive approach that takes an up down strategy.

To realize the use of deductive approach, quantitative tools of collecting and analyzing data such as questionnaires and interviews would be used. Quantitative tools would be preferred as compared to qualitative tools because they enable the researcher to come up with facts, such as a hypothesis that the internet affects students positively in terms of their performance in coursework and thereafter testing and confirming the hypothesis. This is no like qualitative tools that first come up with an abstract idea that is followed by creation of theories and concepts about the idea. Lastly, data in quantitative research is hard and reliable as compared to qualitative research where data is just rich and deep. Due to this, the study takes a positivism kind of philosophy. A positivism approach will make the researcher understand more the impact of the internet on the performance of students in class (Crotty 2003, p. 9).

Quantitative Vs Qualitative Research

This research is occasionally referred to as factual knowledge and employs conventional arithmetical and statistical representations to compute categorical results. Physical scientists usually exploit it, though social studies, education and finance have been identified to utilize this variety of study. Quantitative researches make use of an average design, with a little insignificant inter-subject distinction of engendering a premise to be confirmed or refuted. This hypothesis should be verifiable by mathematical and arithmetical techniques and is the foundation around which the entire research is calculated. The design permits randomization of any targeted clusters as well as organizing groups to be incorporated in the research if possible. A well-designed quantitative design influences only one variable at ago, or else statistical examination turns out to be burdensome and open to queries. In an ideal world, quantitative study is built in a way that permits others to replicate the research and get comparable outcomes.

Quantitative investigation design is an outstanding approach of confirming results and establishing or invalidating a hypothesis. The design was selected in this research since its configuration has not changed for many years meaning it is normal across numerous technical disciplines and subjects (Parsimonious). Subsequent to statistical investigation of the outcomes, an all-inclusive response is arrived at and the outcome scrutiny is legally conferred and published. Quantitative research furthermore sieves peripheral aspects if suitably planned and the outcomes achieved can be perceived to be authentic and equitable. Quantitative researches are constructive for testing the results gotten by a succession of qualitative tests, leading to an ultimate response.

Ethical Implications

Ethics is an important aspect of any research. Ethics means proper or professional research, which is conducted in the best traditions of the discipline. The research needs to observe researcher-respondent relations, which deals with the welfare of the respondent. Researcher-researcher relationships means criticism should be guided by honesty, sincerity, justice and responsibility. It should not be based on polemic, personal biases or collective interests (Xenos & Moy 2007, p. 9). Professional ethics means accuracy in data collection, data processing and application of relevant research methods. In this study, issues related to ethics were addressed by giving relevant notice to the researched. The study population should also be amicably informed in order to get prepared for the study. Briefing is usually important because it can perhaps enhance reliability of the study. It is also ethical to inform people before researching on them. The findings should always be made public to the researched as one way of ensuring morality in the study. Furthermore, the researcher should always observe research ethics by keeping away from criticism (Creswell 2003, p 40).

Questionnaire Rationale

Data was obtained by use of questionaire, which was administered online to students in various intitutions of higher learning. It is attached to this document. The questionaire sought to capture various attutudes of students regarding the application of the internet. The motivation for this section came from the understanding that different sections of population respond differently to change, based on age and academic credentials.

Question Design Comment
1.What your attiude towards the use of internet in learning
  • The main aim of this question is to obtain information regarding the perceptions, viewpoints and opinions of students as far as internet usage is concerned. It captures the qualitative part of data.
  • It is an open-ended question implying that each student can give his or her own view, without necessarily picking the ones indicated in the questionnaire.
  • However, understing data collected through this quetion would be difficult since each respondent is given an opportunity to give his or her own view.
4.How many hours per day do you use the internet in conducting private studies
  • The question is meant to generate quantitave response since the main aim is to collect quantitaive information.
  • The question is structured in a manner that would provide forceful category of data that would be analyzed easily

Open ended questions minimize some errors that could have been created in the course of research. Respondents rarely forget answers if given an opportunity to respond freely. Furthermore, respondents cannot ignore some questions because they must go through all of them. Open ended questions generate data that can be used in data analysis by other researchers. In other words, they allow secondary data analysis. On the other hand, closed-ended questions are analyzed easily. That is why they were used in this study. Each response can be coded for statistical interpretation. Nonetheless, closed-ended questions are compatible with computer analysis package. The technique is more specific meaning that its answers are consistent in all conditions. This aspect is impossible with open-ended questions because each respondent is allowed to use his or her own words (Saunders Lewis & Thornhill 2009, p. 11).

Data Analysis

SPSS Results from Dummy Data Set

Variable Mean Minimum Maximum Percentage Label
Dependent Variables
Grade 5.53 1=poor 5=excellent 70% Performance of students
Independent Variables
Internet Use 3.27 1=Do not use at all 9=use frequently 23% Internet use
21 21.35 18 25 67% Age
Levels of study 4.43 1.00= Junior students 4=Senior students 60% classification
Attitude

Quality of education

1.41

4.34

1=Negative

1=poor

3= Positive

5-excellent

72%

78.3

Student’s attitude

Quality

In the figure, the dependent variable is an ordinal variable whereby number 1 represents poor (Taylor 2007, p. 32). On the other hand, number 5 represents excellent, meaning that students obtain good grades whenever they use the internet. From the table, the rate at which students use the internet is very low. The collected data show that only 23% of students use the internet. This result approves the diffusion theory claiming that not all members of society would adopt technology at the same time. Some customers would not have difficulties in terms of adopting new skill while others would wait for sometime before taking in the new skill. The level of participation is influenced by other factors. Students have a positive attitude towards the use of internet. Results from SPSS shows that 72% of students approved the use of internet implying that the majority of them were willing to embrace technology. Regarding the quality of education, students receive high quality whenever they utilize the internet to conduct studies.

The major aim of this quantitative prototype was to ensure reliability, validity and generalization of a problem in its patent prediction of cause and effect. Validity is utilized in establishing whether a study measures what it is projected to measure and to estimate the truth of the outcomes. The researcher ensured that both internal and external validities were observed in the study. Internal validity was catered for through careful manipulation of the results (Seglin 2003, p. 21).

Evaluation of the Study

As this was a pilot study, the researcher was able to execute it productively. The researcher employed quantitative approach, which proved to be effective given that data collection tool was standardized. The decision to use both open-ended and closed ended questionnaire gave respondents an opportunity to express their views freely. However, the questionnaire designing process was not carefully followed since some questions aimed at collecting qualitative data, especially question one. In case the hypothesis was to be tested statistically, it could yield biased results, which could not explain the real state of affairs as regards to internet usage (Blumberg & Schindler 2008, p. 56). Furthermore, other data collection methods were not used such as interviews, which would have increased the validity and reliability of the results. This is what could have been termed triangulation.

The study could be more reliable in case probing questions were added since they could have collected more information from respondents. In this pilot study, the results obtained compares closely to what could have been collected in real research since the researcher followed all the procedures recognized professionally. The researcher undertook a background study of the problem before setting forth to collect data. The study is dependable since data was obtained from live experiential sources. In case statistical evaluation was to be performed on this data, the information collected from the respondents could be consequentially utilized to analyze the behaviour of the wider population. In this study, the sample used was too small such that it cannot be relied upon for generalization. In other words, the questionnaire should be improved in case any meaningful inferences are to be made from the pilot study. Since the study was simply a pilot study, the information obtained from the respondents did not have any statistical importance and could merely exist to test the validity of the questions. However, it be concluded that the questions were effective and offered sufficient information that could meet the pilot objectives.

Other considerations Remarks
In case the pilot was to be comprehensive, what would have occurred? In case the study was to be extended to cover a larger population, sampling techniques would be employed to ensure that representativeness is achieved. For instance, quota sampling would be considered, which categorizes students based on a certain criteria, such as age or gender.
Analysis of the medium Before the study was conducted, the researcher set out to conduct preliminary research, which is considered secondary. The secondary research was not reliable since data was readily available in articles, books and websites. This was due to the popularity of the topic. Therefore, the secondary data was never valuable to the study. Research gaps calls for further exploration, which could perhaps result in powerful results.
Are the questions used useful in anyway? The questions used were limited in terms of obtaining important information from students. However, it should be noted that they were effective in obtaining first hand information regarding the attitudes of students towards the use of internet.

List of References

Barrett, E & Lally, V 1999, “Gender differences in an on-line learning environment”, Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, Vol. 15, no. 1, p 48-60.

Blumberg, C & Schindler, D 2008, Business Research Methods, New York, McGraw-Hill.

Creswell, J 2003, Research design: Quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods approaches, Sage, Thousand Oaks.

Crotty, M 2003, The Foundations of Social Research: meaning and perspective in the research process, Sage, London.

Kerr, S, 2000, Toward Sociology of Educational Technology: Handbook of Research for Education Communications and Technology, Schuster Macmillan, New York: Simon.

Passing, D & Levin, H 2000, “Gender Preferences for Multimedia interfaces”, Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, Vol. 16, no. 1, p 64-71.

Saunders, M, Lewis, P & Thornhill, A 2009, Research Methods for Business Students, Prentice Hall, Harlow.

Seglin, J. 2003, The Right Thing: Conscious, Profit and Personal Responsibility in Today’s Business, Spiro Press, New York.

Taylor, S 2007, Business Statistics, Palgrave Basingstoke.

Xenos, M & Moy, P 2007, Direct and differential effects of the internet on political and civic engagement, Journal of communication, Vol. 57, no. 1, p 34.