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Uses and Perceptions of E-mail for Course-Related Communication Between Business Faculty and Undergraduates

Robert Costello, Johnson & Wales University


Technological advancements have facilitated the learning process by offering faculty members and students better access to resources, while increasing the potential for more interaction and communication flexibility (Firmin & Miller, 2005). Among these technologies is electronic mail or e-mail. The uses and perceptions of e-mail between business faculty members and students are essential to improving this ubiquitous form of communication, thus making these issues worthy of investigating. This study examined whether business faculty and undergraduate business majors were aligned in their perceptions of e-mail exchanges, taking into account their motivations and expectations and their reliance on this form of communication. Another study reported that faculty members perceived e-mail as both a benefit and a liability, and that institutional differences were found in students' motives when corresponding with faculty members via e-mail (Duran, Kelly, & Keaten, 2005). A mixed-method, sequential exploratory method was used for the study with qualitative data collected through faculty and student focus groups (N = 4, N = 8) and quantitative data collected from faculty and student questionnaires (N = 24, N = 114). The study site was the school of business at a private, Catholic, four-year, liberal arts college in the Northeast. Data analyses employed identification of themes from the focus groups discussions and for the questionnaire data, descriptive statistics and t-tests to determine the significance of between-group differences. The results confirmed that both business faculty members and undergraduate business majors preferred and most commonly used e-mail for out-of-class communication, and that frequency of use was nearly equal between the two groups. However, disparities did arise concerning message content and format, use of handheld devices, and the value of instruction in the procedures for using e-mail properly.

Subject Area

Educational leadership|Communication|Educational technology

Recommended Citation

Costello, Robert, "Uses and Perceptions of E-mail for Course-Related Communication Between Business Faculty and Undergraduates" (2011). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI3464879.