Factors affecting participant reactions to new training devices

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Instructional Design, Development and Evaluation


Donald P. Ely


Instructional technology, Military, Training devices

Subject Categories



This study aimed to facilitate planning for introduction of training technology through greater knowledge of "what is important" to potential adopters, from students to training supervisors. Data were collected primarily using interviews of 43 participants in the implementation of two instructional technology innovations at an Army training installation. Triangulation was provided through document analysis and limited participant-observation.

Primary (qualitative) analysis yielded 20 codes describing considerations that were important to participants as they decided to support or resist implementation. These concerns included characteristics of the innovation itself, environmental conditions, and concerns associated with particular points on the implementation timeline.

A factor analysis was used to identify codes that covaried. The resulting factors described six areas of concern shared by all participants: (1) Conflict between the device or its proponents with needs, values, and beliefs, (2) Fear of change--or satisfaction with the status quo, (3) Complexity--or difficulty using the device--due to isolation of users from the development phase, (4) Fear of poor system quality resulting from technically unqualified leadership, (5) Absence of required skills/knowledge among those who must actually implement the device, and (6) Lack of clear goals and objectives due to isolation of users from the early phases of innovation development. The extent to which these priorities were addressed accounted for 78% of variance in the data.

An initial hypothesis that participants' roles (learner, subject expert, etc.) influence what issues are most important to them was confirmed by the findings. The nature of this effect was examined through a discriminant analysis, and by sorting participants' data according to role and observing the differences in the importance their comments attached to each factor and component. The discriminant function also reclassified some participants under roles other than those they actually held, in a manner suggesting that their comments reflected a previous role better than their current one.

Further analysis of these findings prioritized the six factors, based on the frequency and intensity of supporting comments and the percentage of variance for which each accounts. Examination of setting-induced differences in the two implementations further refined this scheme into a sort of "Maslow's Hierarchy" of change factors, suggesting a prerequisite structure of concerns worthy of further examination.

Comparison with previous diffusion studies showed widespread congruence with frameworks derived from other settings. Differences reflected viewpoints more than substance, and illustrated key effects of the military training environment. For example, the traditional idea of effectiveness was sometimes seen as a negative factor because students (who are also soldiers) are expected to succeed in spite of hardships in the environment.


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