Navigating the Future: Exploring AI Adoption in Chinese Higher Education Through the Lens of Diffusion Theory

Qiubo Huang, Pivithuru J Kumarasinghe, Gothami Sakunthala Jayarathna
Interdisciplinary Journal of Information, Knowledge, and Management  •  Volume 19  •  2024  •  pp. 009

This paper aims to investigate and understand the intentions of management undergraduate students in Hangzhou, China, regarding the adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies in their education. It addresses the need to explore the factors influencing AI adoption in the educational context and contribute to the ongoing discourse on technology integration in higher education.

The paper addresses the problem by conducting a comprehensive investigation into the perceptions of management undergraduate students in Hangzhou, China, regarding the adoption of AI in education. The study explores various factors, including Perceived Relative Advantage and Trialability, to shed light on the nuanced dynamics influencing AI technology adoption in the context of higher education.

The study employs a quantitative research approach, utilizing the Confirmatory Tetrad Analysis (CTA) and Partial Least Squares Structural Equation Modeling (PLS-SEM) methodologies. The research sample consists of management undergraduate students in Hangzhou, China, and the methods include data screening, principal component analysis, confirmatory tetrad analysis, and evaluation of the measurement and structural models. We used a random sampling method to distribute 420 online, self-administered questionnaires among management students aged 18 to 21 at universities in Hangzhou.

This paper explores how management students in Hangzhou, China, perceive the adoption of AI in education. It identifies factors that influence AI adoption intention. Furthermore, the study emphasizes the complex nature of technology adoption in the changing educational technology landscape. It offers a thorough comprehension of this process while challenging and expanding the existing literature by revealing the insignificant impacts of certain factors. This highlights the need for an approach to AI integration in education that is context-specific and culturally sensitive.

The study highlights students’ positive attitudes toward integrating AI in educational settings. Perceived relative advantage and trialability were found to impact AI adoption intention significantly. AI adoption is influenced by social and cultural contexts rather than factors like compatibility, complexity, and observability. Peer influence, instructor guidance, and the university environment were identified as pivotal in shaping students’ attitudes toward AI technologies.

To promote the use of AI among management students in Hangzhou, practitioners should highlight the benefits and the ease of testing these technologies. It is essential to create communication strategies tailored to the student’s needs, consider cultural differences, and utilize the influence of peers and instructors. Establishing a supportive environment within the university that encourages innovation through policies and regulations is vital. Additionally, it is recommended that students’ attitudes towards AI be monitored constantly, and strategies adjusted accordingly to keep up with the changing technological landscape.

Researchers should conduct cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural studies with qualitative and longitudinal research designs to understand factors affecting AI adoption in education. It is essential to investigate compatibility, complexity, observability, individual attitudes, prior experience, and the evolving role of peers and instructors.

The study’s insights into the positive attitudes of management students in Hangzhou, China, toward AI adoption in education have broader societal implications. It reflects a readiness for transformative educational experiences in a region known for technological advancements. However, the study also underscores the importance of cautious integration, considering associated risks like data privacy and biases to ensure equitable benefits and uphold educational values.

Future research should delve into AI adoption in various academic disciplines and regions, employing longitudinal designs and qualitative methods to understand cultural influences and the roles of peers and instructors. Investigating moderating factors influencing specific factors’ relationship with AI adoption intention is essential for a comprehensive understanding.

AI integration in education, Chinese university education, student perspectives, diffusion theory, PLS-SEM analysis
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