Patterns of electronic mail use in a university setting : an extended replication of Steinfield's (1983) study

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Hur, Gyeongho
Flint, Lyle J.
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Thesis (M.A.)
Department of Speech Communication
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The purpose of the study was to test the generalizability of Steinfield's (1983) study by employing college students as research participants instead of members from a business organization. The study was concerned with identifying factors relating to different patterns of electronic mail (EM) use in a college setting. A total of 446 college students participated in the research. The two dimensions of EM use, task and social, were the dependent variables. The study examined the impact of several independent variables on EM use. Specifically, perceived ease of EM, social presence of EM, prior experience with EM, gender of the user, the number of people to communicate with, and perceived ease of access were investigated.Pearson correlations and t-tests were used to test the hypotheses. Significant relationships were obtained between perceived attributes and task/social use of EM. Prior experience with EM also was found to relate to task/social use of the medium. No significant differences were found for EM use on the basis of gender. However, there were significant relationships between the number of accounts through which to communicate with others and task/social use of EM. Additionally, a relationship was found between perceived ease of access to EM and task/social uses of EM. A significant correlation between students' and their instructor's task use of EM also was found. Finally, students' and instructor's social presence of EM were positively related to each other.The researcher recommended that future research be conducted on the basis of more sophisticated statistics, real-time based data, a content analysis, and pre- and posttests. An encouragement for new students to use EM for their own diverse purposes was suggested as a practical implication.