Understanding mobile learning acceptance among university students with special needs: An exploration through the lens of self-determination theory

Sahin F., YILDIZ G.


  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Publication Date: 2024
  • Doi Number: 10.1111/jcal.12986
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, PASCAL, Periodicals Index Online, Applied Science & Technology Source, CINAHL, Computer & Applied Sciences, EBSCO Education Source, Educational research abstracts (ERA), ERIC (Education Resources Information Center), INSPEC, Psycinfo, DIALNET
  • Anadolu University Affiliated: Yes


BackgroundDespite the significant emphasis on self-determination in special education and the crucial role of mobile learning, there is a notable absence of path modelling studies that explore the effect of self-determination on the usage of mobile learning by students with special needs.ObjectivesThis study sought to investigate the intentions of mobile learning usage among students with special needs by proposing a model rooted in the technology acceptance model, complemented by extraneous constructs from self-determination theory (competence, autonomy and relatedness).MethodsThe data of the study was obtained online from 1298 special needs university students with eight different types of disabilities. Data were analysed with descriptive statistics, confirmatory factor analysis, structural equation modelling and bootstrapping.Results and ConclusionsThe proposed model explained 78.4% of ease of use, 85.2% of usefulness, and 76.5% of intention. 11 of the 12 hypotheses tested within the scope of the model were supported. All hypotheses examining the impacts of self-determination theory constructs on ease of use, usefulness, and intention were validated (8 hypotheses), with the exception of the autonomy -> intention relationship. Substantial empirical evidence has been acquired to support the role of the self-determination theory in exploring the intention toward mobile learning among university students with special needs. Concurrently, a robust theoretical framework has been introduced to the field of special education to elucidate the acceptance and utilization of technology by university students with special needs. What is already known about this topic Numerous studies have demonstrated the significance of mobile tools and mobile learning in the realm of special education. Self-determination holds immense importance in fostering independence and social engagement by empowering individuals with special needs to gain confidence, assume control and accountability for their own choices and actions. Self-determination theory underscores the importance of providing individuals with support for three fundamental psychological needs-autonomy, competence, and relatedness-to foster healthy development.What this paper adds To the best of the authors' knowledge, this study stands as a unique contribution within its field due to its distinctive characteristics. The model, supported by exceptionally successful outcomes and its ability to elucidate technology acceptance constructs at remarkably high levels, offers a robust theoretical framework for enabling students with special needs to engage effectively with mobile learning in both special and inclusive educational settings. Investigating how self-determination theory enhances the explanatory power of the technology acceptance model in special education. Illuminating the significance of basic psychological needs in the adoption of mobile learning, employing advanced statistical methods with a substantial participant base, and delivering valuable insights to advance the utilization of mobile learning in special education.Implications for practice and/or policy Special education settings should encourage students to take initiative, make choices, and exercise autonomy, and curriculum design should include opportunities for students to make choices. Making students part of the design processes and emphasizing usability through the prioritization of customizable, user-friendly designs should be an inherent aspect of educational technology. Educators and support staff must have training and professional development opportunities to effectively use mobile learning tools and create inclusive learning environments.