Leadership Studies Ed.D. Dissertations

The Diffusion of Smartphones and Tablets in Higher Education: A Comparison of Faculty and Student Perceptions and Uses.

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Leadership Studies

First Advisor

William Ingle

Second Advisor

Rachel Reinhart (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Allison Goedde (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Chris Wolverton (Committee Member)


Individual access to mobile devices has increased dramatically in recent years, and faculty and students are beginning to use smartphones and tablets to support teaching and learning. This correlational study surveys faculty and students at a private, liberal arts university to better understand perceptions about the devices for use in an academic setting. Student and faculty responses are compared using adopter categories and innovation attributes developed by Rogers’ (2003) diffusion of innovations. Two survey instruments were developed for this study. The Faculty Smartphone and Tablet Diffusion of Innovations (FSTDIS) and Student Smartphone and Tablet Diffusion of Innovations (SSTDIS) were created based on a previous survey aimed at faculty adoption of a course management system. The surveys were sent to approximately 250 faculty members and between 1,700 and 1,900 students. Results from the surveys were used to address four research questions comparing faculty and students, as well as perceptions of the value of smartphones and tablets in higher education. Findings from this study can be used by university administrators to increase the adoption of mobile devices for academic purposes. Rogers’ (2003) diffusion of theory provides a framework for technology adoption in organizations.