Learning to Use Office Applications: Understanding the Antecedents of Adaptive IT Use

Bertta Sokura

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


The students now starting their university studies are digital natives – the first generation that has grown up surrounded by IT gadgets with a wide variety of applications for business, public services, communications, and entertainment. However, there is a bigger-than-ever need to train specific applications such as spreadsheets so as to help users maximize the benefits of IT. Without proper training, IT can turn out to be a big challenge or even an obstacle for many users.This dissertation studies the learning process in the IT training context. The overall goal is to model how training influences different outcomes of learning: changes in IT beliefs and attitudes, IT-related anxiety, and the ability to apply the learned IT skills in novel situations, that is, learning transfer. The research questions are 1) How does IT training influence IT anxiety, IT beliefs, and attitudes? 2) How does IT training-related flow experience influence learning transfer? 3) What are the antecedents of IT training-related flow experience? These three questions have informed the research efforts reported in the four research papers included in this dissertation, each examining different theoretical perspectives from the viewpoint of the individual learner. The main theoretical contribution of this dissertation is the theoretical IT Learning Process (ITLP) framework that is developed and tested in the context of office application training. The framework is based on the literature on information systems (IS), human behavior, flow, learning and learning transfer, and motivation. The key findings of the dissertation are as follows: First, the notion of ease of use is independent of computer anxiety. Secondly, user beliefs and attitudes change during the IT learning process, due to perceptions of usefulness, rather than satisfaction. Thirdly, extrinsic motivation is more likely to cause a flow state than vice versa. Fourthly, students gain flow experience when learning to use a spreadsheet application. Flow, in turn, is the major determinant of learning transfer. A successful learning process enables deeper learning transfer; that is, users gain adaptive IT abilities.The dissertation also provides recommendations for practical training arrangements, discusses the limitations of the research, and suggests some avenues for future research. To conclude, IT training can be highly cost-effective by significantly increasing the performance of users, be they digital natives or from an older generation. Even experienced IT users should, from time to time, pause and ponder how they are using IT. Are they laboriously and manually doing things that could be done by applying the features of the application?
Translated title of the contributionToimisto-ohjelmien soveltavan käytön edellytysten ymmärtäminen
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Saarinen, Timo, Supervising Professor
Print ISBNs978-952-60-6693-6
Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-6694-3
Publication statusPublished - 2016
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


  • IT learning
  • IT training
  • adaptive IT use
  • learning transfer
  • flow
  • IS acceptance
  • longitudinal study
  • structural equation modeling (SEM)


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