of this work is to present the results of research
conducted at language schools in Curitiba
in October and November 2001. The purpose of the research
was to determine what factors influenced pedagogical
managers to adopt the Internet as a teaching tool.
The study used Rogers’ (1995) Theory of Perceived
Attributes as the theoretical framework. In Rogers’ theory,
five attributes of an innovation affect potential adopters’ choice
to use an innovation or not to use an innovation. These
five attributes include relative advantage, observability,
trialability, complexity, and compatibility. Other
variables were also considered as potential factors
This article will be divided into three
The theory of perceived attributes (Rogers, 1995);
How research was conducted and the methodology used;
The results of the statistical analysis and the findings.
The theory of perceived attributes
It is often
very difficult to get a new idea adopted, even when
it has obvious advantages. In many cases
a long period of time – sometimes years – is
necessary for an innovation to be widely adopted. Therefore,
a common problem for many individuals and organizations
is how to speed up the rate of diffusion of an innovation
(Rogers, 1995). And what is diffusion? According to
Rogers (1995) it is the process by which an innovation
is communicated through certain channels over time
among the members of a social system.
Diffusion research, in its simplest form, studies how
an innovation, a communication channel, time, a social
system and a multitude of other factors, interact to
facilitate or impede the adoption of a product or practice
among members of a particular adopter group (Surry,
Professionals from different areas have used the theory
of innovation diffusion to increase the adoption of
innovative products and practices.
According to several authors, the researcher who has
done the most to synthesize all of the most significant
findings and compelling theories related to diffusion
is Everett M. Rogers.
One of the four theories discussed by Rogers, which
are among the most widely used theories of diffusion,
is the perceived attributes theory. It states that
potential adopters judge an innovation based on their
perception in regard to five attributes of the innovation
These attributes are:
Trialability – the degree to which an innovation
can be experimented with on a limited basis.
Observability – the degree to which the results
of an innovation are visible to others.
Relative advantage – the degree to which an innovation
is perceived as better than the idea it supercedes.
Complexity – the degree to which an innovation
is perceived as difficult to use and/or understand.
Compatibility – the degree to which an innovation
is consistent with already existing values, past experiences
and needs of potential adopters.
The theory of perceived attributes has been used as
the theoretical basis for several studies relevant
to the field of instructional technology (Surry, 1997).
According to Rogers (1995), from 49 to 87 percent
of the variance of the rate of adoption is explained
by these five attributes. He also adds that past research
indicates that these five qualities are the most important
characteristics of innovation in explaining the rate
in the area shows that the use of the Internet as
a teaching tool in English language teaching has
a series of advantages (Holcombe, 2000; Grauss, 1999;
Carrier, 1997; Warschauer & Whittaker, 1997). Yet,
innovations, even when grounded in sound theory, rarely
take hold simply on account of their inherent value.
An ELT innovation can be enthusiastically approved
and implemented in some settings with little or no
resistance, and harshly criticized and then strongly
rejected in others. Such a phenomenon obliges one to
consider what determines whether innovations will be
accepted or rejected by ELT administrators, teachers,
pedagogical managers, and/or students (Stoller, 1994).
There is a growing realization that many innovative
products and practices, which appear to provide numerous
advantages, still suffer from a lack of utilization
(Surry, 1997). Why do people reject an innovation which
is educationally sound and improves the teaching/learning
experience? Diffusion theory seems to provide an answer
to these questions.
focus of this study was to identify the factors that
contributed to the Internet being accepted
or rejected as an educational innovation. Previous
research had identified factors that contributed to
an innovation’s acceptance or rejection, but
have not focused on a tool such as the Internet and
the five attributes have not been used extensively
to examine an innovation such as the Internet (Holcombe,
2000). By investigating variables defined by Diffusion
theory, and applying them to an informational tool
such as the Internet, further insight was gained in
the factors affecting the acceptance of such an innovation.
Other variables were also considered as potential factors
How research was conducted and the methodology
The purpose of this study was to identify factors
that supported or impeded the acceptance of the Internet
as a teaching tool, at language schools in Curitiba,
from the point of view of pedagogical managers.
In examining these topics, the following
research questions were addressed:
Who is responsible for pedagogical decisions at language
schools in Curitiba?
What factors contributed to pedagogical managers accepting
or rejecting the Internet as a teaching tool?
Did they observe any kind of teacher and/or student
pressure for the Internet to be adopted?
Did the size and the time of operation of language
schools influence the rate of adoption of the Internet?
A survey research was conducted to identify the factors
that support or impede the acceptance of the Internet
as a teaching tool at language schools in Curitiba,
from the point of view of their pedagogical managers.
It employed a mailed questionnaire.
of this study was the pedagogical managers from language
schools from Curitiba. All language schools
open and working at the moment of the research were
included: not only the big ones with a large number
of students and branches but also the ones with few
students, franchise institutes or not. Language schools
are defined here as educationally independent institutes
and franchise institutes from the private sector that
provide foreign language teaching. To obtain the names
and addresses of these schools several public and private
agencies were contacted, but only SINEPE/PR – Ctba.
had the required information.
After the analysis of the lists received the need
to use other lists to obtain the final accessible population
was taken into account. With this purpose, all telephone
directories of the city of Curitiba were checked as
well as the web sites of the telephone companies that
operate in the city.
universe comprised 189 addresses of language schools
formally established in Curitiba. The next
step was to obtain the names of the pedagogical managers.
All the schools listed were contacted by telephone.
The content of the research was explained, the importance
of their participation mentioned and then the name
of the pedagogical manager was required. In this first
contact there was no refusal to participation. The
result was a list of 171 pedagogical managers. The
difference in number was due to the fact that sometimes
one person was responsible for more than one school,
mainly in the case of branches and franchise institutes,
and, in other cases, there was more than one pedagogical
manager in a school, especially in the schools that
teach more than one foreign language. The sample population
for the present study was obtained from this accessible
population. Considering the size of the population
of this study (171 people) a sample of 50% would grant
the required accuracy (Yamane, apud Rea and Parker,
2000, p.129), that is 85,5 people. The figure was then
rounded to 86. In mail surveys there is no control
over the number of respondents who will answer the
questionnaires. It is necessary, for this reason, to
adopt special sampling procedures. The response rate
of mailed questionnaires is of 50%, according to Rea & Parker
(2000). So the questionnaires were sent to all the
171 pedagogical managers. It was not necessary to select
one type of sample procedure.
assessed were based on the self-reported responses
by pedagogical managers. The complete questionnaire
used in the present work was translated and adapted
from Moore & Benbasat (1991). Moore & Benbasat
developed a generic framework for diffusion questionnaires.
The instrument developed by Moore & Benbasat is
supported by Rogers (1995), who states “Moore & Benbasat
(1991) developed a set of general scale items to measure
each of the five main attributes of innovations that
can be applied to any particular innovation. This is
a valuable methodological contribution to future research” (Rogers,