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An Empirical Study Upon How Social Comparative Learning of Forum Participants Affects Learning Effects with Emphasis on Participants' Characteristic

포럼 참가자의 사회적 비교학습이 학습효과에 미치는 영향에 대한 실증분석: 참가자 특성을 중심으로

  • Received : 2016.06.05
  • Accepted : 2016.06.27
  • Published : 2016.06.30

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to empirically analyze how social comparative learning of forum participants affects learning effects with an emphasis on participants' characteristics. As today's society is changing at a fast pace, the desire for new knowledge and information has grown accordingly. To quench this thirst for knowledge and information, seminars, symposiums, conferences, forums, conventions, exhibitions, and more are taking place as part of knowledge sharing events across the world. Also, the increased need for knowledge and information exchange has led the development and growth of the convention industry and Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Events (Exhibitions)(MICE) industry. Especially, forum is a type of event which invites professionals and specialists to discuss diverse topics and share their knowledge and experience with the audience. The participants utilize it as an opportunity to get close to information providers and enjoy the pleasure of knowledge exchange. However, there have been few empirical analyses on who the participants are, why they attend forum, how they pick up and learn new information and knowledge, and what kinds of learning effects they achieve after the event. This paper is to analyze how social comparative learning of the forum's participants influences learning effects based on Albert Bandura's Social Learning Theory (1977, 1997, 1982. 2001) and Leon Festinger's Social Comparative Theory (1950, 1954). By dividing the participants into two groups, one with high level of self-efficacy and the other with low level of self-efficacy, we have examined the differences in learning effects between the two groups using them as moderating variables. This study was conducted in 'MBN Y Forum 2016,' which is one of the most representative knowledge exchange forums of South Korea. An online survey was distributed out and, 1,307(39.2%) out of the total participants of 3,338 have completed the survey. The survey included questions about whether the participants have gained positive or negative motivations by comparing themselves to the speakers (upward comparison learning) and other participants (lateral comparison learning). The results have shown the quality of messages that the speakers are presenting as knowledge providers is the most significant factor that acts on learning effects. Particularly, the participants had higher levels of self-efficacy and self-esteem than average people. They had a clear goal to learn from the speakers (upward comparison) and received positive motivations from them. In other words, no negative learning effects had been found. This presents a managerial implication that having a qualified speaker is necessary for a forum to be successful. On the other hand, the results from the comparison with the other participants (lateral comparison) were different. The participants were likely to compare themselves to the other participants through observational learning. They could compare listening attitudes, language skills, or capabilities to ask a question. The results have showed the participants received positive motivations from the lateral group but at the same time were jealous of abilities of the others. When the quality of a question by a participant is not good enough, it can have a negative influence on the participants' learning effects. The first group with high levels of self-efficacy and self-esteem had no correlation to negative learning effects from the speakers. They rather had a strong desire to learn from the speakers. On the contrary, the participants perceived the lateral group as a learning subset and competitor. The second group with low levels of self-efficacy and self-esteem saw the quasi-group as a rival. This presents that the individual learning effects can be different depending on the participants' characteristics.

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