How and Why Higher Education Information Technology Professionals Keep Their Skill Sets Current
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Educational Leadership, Research and Technology
Dr. Louann Bierlein Palmer
Dr. Sharon Peterson
Dr. Kristen Salomonson
IT training, higher education training, higher education IT staff
The rapid change in technology creates a challenge for universities to understand the importance of why and how IT professionals keep current in their skill sets, as opposed to leaving the profession or becoming obsolete in their position. This study captured information from IT professionals in higher education regarding the learning activities they find useful in maintaining or updating their skills, an estimate of time spent in those learning activities both at work and outside work, and information on what factors contributed to this maintenance.
Previous research on social cognitive theory and locus of control theory supported the conceptual frame for this study, with job/organization satisfaction, employee self-efficacy, and employee self-regulation used as independent variables along with the demographic data. The number of hours IT professionals spent in training both during and outside of work hours were the dependent variables.
IT professionals in 15 two-year and four-year public higher education institutions in one Midwestern state were surveyed, and 92 responded. Results indicated that these IT professionals stated that experimenting with new products and discussion with colleagues were the two most valuable learning activities. The items with the highest impact on what factors IT professionals felt played a role in remaining current were within the employee self-efficacy and satisfaction with current position constructs. Overall, the data found that employees spent approximately 62 days a year in all training activities during work hours and 36 days a year outside work hours, and that they want a voice in their training opportunities.
Demographic data (age, type of university, years in primary job role, years in current job role, years in current organization, and years in IT profession) were analyzed to see if the type of institution they worked at affected the amount of training time. Respondents with less time in their primary role, in the organization, and in the IT profession were found to spend the most time in training activities. These results indicated that the number of years in their current role and the number of years in the organization, regardless of the type of institution they worked, affected the amount of time a respondent spent outside work hours. Whereas the years with the current organization, years in the IT profession, and their interaction with the type of institution affected the amount of training done during work hours. Age, when evaluating the interaction with the type of university, did affect the amount of training hours both during and outside of work, with results showing the older the IT professional the less time spent in training activities.
These findings add to the limited research conducted on these issues within higher education institutions. Implications and recommendations for IT managers in such institutions are offered, as well as future research ideas.
Deur, Vicky L., "How and Why Higher Education Information Technology Professionals Keep Their Skill Sets Current" (2020). Dissertations. 3582.