Ellsworth (2000) commented that Rogers' Diffusion of Innovations (1995) is
an excellent general practitioner's guide. Rogers' framework provide "a
standard classification scheme for describing the perceived attributes on innovations
in universal terms" (Rogers, 1995). Research in educational change has
applied and explored Rogers' model to different contexts.
Rogers' model studies diffusion from a change communication framework to examine
the effects of all the components involved in the communication process on the
rate of adoption. Rogers (1996) identified the differences both in people and
in the innovation. The model provides the guidelines for the change agents about
what attributes that they can build into the innovation to facilitate its acceptance
by the intended adopter. Rogers also identified the sequence of change agent
- To develop a need for change.
- To establish an information-exchange relationship.
- To diagnose problems.
- To create an intent in the client to change.
- To translate an intent to action.
- To stabilize adoption and prevent discontinuance.
- To achieve a terminal relationship
How is diffusion defined in Rogers' Model?
Diffusion is a process by which an innovation is communicated through certain
channels over time among the members of a social system.
The definition indicates that:
- The adopters can be an individual, groups, or organization at different
levels of social system.
- The target is innovation
- The process is communication
- The means is communication channels
- The context of innovation is a social system
- It is a change over time.
How can we categorize different types of adopter?
- Innovators (risk takers)
- Early adopters (hedgers)
- Early majority (waiters)
- Late majority (skeptics)
- Late adopters (slowpokes)
What are the factors affecting the rate of adoption of an innovation?
According to Rogers (1995), there are five major factors affecting the rate
- Perceived Attributes of Innovation
An innovation is a idea, practice or object that is perceived as new by an
individual or other unit of adoption. How the adopter perceived characteristics
of the innovation has impacts on the process of adoption.
- Relative advantage: the degree to which an innovation is perceived as better
than the idea it supersedes. The underlying principle is that the greater
the perceived relative advantage of an innovation, the more raid its rate
- Compatibility: the degree to which an innovation is perceived as being consistent
with the existing values, past experiences, and needs of potential adopters
- Complexity: the degree to which an innovation is perceived as difficult
to understand and use
- Trialability: the degree to which an innovation may be experimented with
on a limited basis. If an innovation is trialable, it results in less uncertainty
- Observability: the degree to which the results of an innovation are visible
to others. The easier it is for individuals to see the results of an innovation,
the more likely they are to adopt.
- Type of Innovation-Decision
- Optional: an individual flexibility
- Collective: a balance between maximum efficiency and freedom
- Authority: it yields the high rate of adoption, but produces high resistance.
- Communication Channels
- Nature of the Social System
A social system is defined as a set of interrelated units that are engaged
in joint problem solving to accomplish a common goal. The members or units
of a social system may be individuals, informal groups, organizations, and
or subsystems. All members cooperate at least to the extent of seeking to
solve a common problem in order to reach a mutual goal: Sharing of a common
objective binds the system together. The social structure affects the innovation's
diffusion in several ways:
- Social structure and communication structure: patterned arrangements of
the units in a system
- System norms: norms are established behavior patterns for the members of
a social system
- Roles of opinion leaders and change agents: opinion leadership is the degree
to which an individual is able to influence other individual's attitudes or
overt behavior informally in a desired way with relative frequency
- Types of innovation decisions: optional innovation-decision, collective
innovation -decision, authority innovation-decision; contingent innovation-decision
- The consequences of innovation: desirable vs. undesirable, direct vs. indirect,
anticipated vs. unanticipated
- Extent of Change Agent's Promotion
Siegel (1999) listed four additional factors of Rogers' theory:
- Pro-innovation Bias: three assumptions about innovation:
- It should be diffused and adopted by all members of a social system
- It should be diffused more rapidly
- It should be neither reinvented nor rejected
- Reinvention: people use innovations in ways not originally intended
- Individual characteristics of adopters
What is innovation-decision process for individual or other decision making
- Knowledge: it occurs when an individual is exposed to the innovation's existence
and gains some understanding of how it functions
- Persuasion: it occurs when an individual forms a favorable or unfavorable
attitude toward the innovation
- Decision: it occurs when an individual engages in activities that lead to
a choice to adopt or reject the innovation
- Implementation: it occurs when an individual puts an innovation into use
- Confirmation: it occurs when an individual seeks reinforcement of an innovation
decision or reverse the previous decision due to the conflict
What are the contributions of Rogers' Model?
Ellsworth (2000) pointed out the most critical benefits of Rogers' model is
the innovation attributes. He said:
"Practitioners are likely to find this perspective of the greatest
use if they are engaged in the actual development of the innovation or if
they are deciding whether (or how) to adapt the innovation to meet local requirements
framework can be useful in determining how it is to be presented to its intended
Rogers' model has identified the critical components in the change system and
their characteristics. The model is relatively systematic because the consequence
of the change is confined with a predetermined "innovation", a predetermined
goal. The interrelationship and dynamic exchange between the components in the
change system is not expected to contribute to the continuous shaping of the
vision, but to be controlled to adopt a desirable idea, object, or program.
Ellsworth, J. B. (2000). Surviving changes: A survey of Educational change
models. Syracuse, NY: ERIC Clearinghouse.
Rogers, E. (1995). Diffusion of Innovations. (4th ed.). New York, NY:
The Free Press.
Rogers' Diffusion of Innovation
Fullan's Educational Change
Ely's Conditions of Changes