Concerns-Based Adoption Model



Mojgan Afshari, Kamariah Abu Bakar, Wong Su Luan, Bahaman Abu Samah and Foo Say Fooi


According to Sashkin and Ergermeier (1993), the Concerns-Based Adoption Model (CBAM) is an essential tool for empowering individuals to create changes in educational settings. It pays attention to the individuals and the organizations in the change process (Sashkin and Ergermeier, 1993). Many researchers considered this model as the most robust and empirically grounded theoretical model for the implementation of educational innovations (van Den Berg, 1993).

The key components of the model include some basic assumptions about this type of educational change and the concepts of Stages of Concern (SoC), Levels of Use (LoU), Innovation Configurations (IC), change facilitator styles and interventions. The model is complemented by methodologies for measuring change processes within each component, singly or in combination. This chapter reviews key components of the CBAM and suggests directions for future research with an aim of the refinement and elaboration ofthe CBAM theory.

Technology and Education: hsues, Empirical Research and Applications

The Concerns-Based Adoption Model (CBAM)

The CBAM, was developed from Fuller's model and has been extensively applied to the implementation of educational innovations since 1970s. This model has been constructed for the purpose of assisting people in the process of innovation adoption. Furthermore, it provides a basis for empirical investigation of the adoption process (Hall, Wallace and Dossett, 1973). Fuller (1969) has identified a developmental sequence in which prospective and in-service teachers' concerns appear in a dependable pattern on a continuum from concerns about self to concerns about the task of teaching to concerns about pupils (Baker et al., 2004).

According to Anderson (1997), CBAM is founded based on several assumptions that are (a) change is a process, not an event; (b) change is accomplished by individuals; (c) change is a highly personal experience; (d) change involves developmental growth in feelings and skills; and (e) change can be facilitated by interventions directed toward the individuals, innovations and contexts involved. Also, Newhouse (2001) stated that the CBAM model is composed of three key dimensions. Stages of concern and levels of use are explanatory in nature and focus on the implementer, while the innovation configuration is diagnostic in scope and considers the nature of the innovation itself.

Stage of Concern

In investigating the personal side of change, the CBAM model provides a way of examining the various levels of user concerns related to the adoption of a new innovation via what is known as 'Stages of Concern' (SoC), (Hall and Hord, 2001).

According to van Den Berg (1993), the SoC defines potential users, or adopters' concerns, as composite representations of thoughts, feelings, preoccupations and considerations. More importantly, potential users' concerns seem to have a crucial role in the innovation adoption process and must be considered during the implementation of a new innovation (Lee and Lawson, 2001). The SoC provides a way of examining user concerns and identifies four broad stages of concern involving the unrelated (concerns not related to the current innovation), self (concerns about how the innovation personally affects the individual), task (concerns about how the innovation is managed) and impact (concerns about how the innovation affects others) questions that individuals confronted with a new innovation will have. Furthermore, Hall and Hord (2001) reported that the four phases of concern (unrelated, self, task and impact) can be divided into seven precise categories of concern (unrelated-awareness, self informational, self-personal, task-management, impact-consequence, impact-collaboration and impact-refocusing) that provide an even more detailed understanding of the type of concerns that an individual might have when confronted with a new innovation. At stage O-AWARENESS, the teacher has little knowledge about the change. At Stage I-INFORMATIONAL, the teacher is involved in learning about the innovation and the implications of its implementation. Teacher concerns at Stage 2-PERSONAL, typically reflect strong anxieties about the teacher's ability to implement the change, the appropriateness of the change and the personal costs of getting involved. Stage 3-MANAGEMENT, is reached when the teacher begins to experiment with implementation; at this point, teacher concerns intensify around the logistics and new behaviors associated with putting the change into practice. At Stage 4-CONSEQUENCE, teacher concerns focus predominantly on the impact of the change on students in their classrooms and on the possibilities for modifying the innovation or their use to improve its effects. High Stage 5-COLLABORATION, reflects the teacher's interest in working with other teachers in the school to jointly improve the benefits of change. At some point in the change process, teachers may reach Stage 6-REFOCUSING. Now the teacher is thinking about making major modifications in the use of the innovation, or perhaps replacing it with something else. Therefore, the stage of concern shows the teachers' feelings and understanding about an innovation.

According to Hall and Hord (2001), it is possible for an individual to express concerns at more than one stage simultaneously; for example, an individual can have personal concerns about how the innovation will impact on his daily work and impact concerns regarding how the innovation will change the way he works with his students or colleagues. Concerns must become lower in intensity at one stage in order to become more intense at another stage and while ideally the intensity of concerns moves from personal concerns to impact concerns, it is possible for personal concerns to increase during later stages of the innovation adoption process, causing a backward movement. An understanding of an individual's concerns about an innovation involves identifying the peak of SoC; in other words, pinpointing the stage that is currently the most intense for the individual and thus the focus of the individual's energy and time (Hall and Hord, 2001).

Various research studies have found the conceptualization of the SoC useful in identifying the most intense area of concern of those involved in an innovation in a range of fields from education to nursing and has provided an understanding of some of the characteristics of potential adopters (e.g. age, gender, amount of training, disciplinary area and departmental support) that may influence their most intense concerns and has provided some information for developing interventions that can support the faculty and staff involved in the process of adopting an innovation (Adams, 2002; Atkins and Vasu, 2000; Rakes and Casey, 2002). According to a number of studies, an individual's concerns will differ in strength depending on a variety of factors, such as his or her use of the innovation, knowledge, skill in using innovation and participation in professional development activities related to the innovation (Adams, 2002; Hall and Hord, 2001; Todd, 1993). Hence, school principals should understand teachers' attitudes, beliefs and concerns, both before and during the implementation of an innovation (Fullan, 1999). This information can help principals to prepare appropriate professional development opportunities to support the educational initiative.

Table 1.1 The Concerns-Based Adoption Model Stages of Concern and Levels of Use

Stage of Concern

Level of Use

o Awareness


Non use

I Informational



2 Personal



3 Management


Mechanical use

4 Consequence

IVA Routine

5 Collaboration

IVB Refinement

6 Refocusing





(Hall, George and Rutherford, 1998; Hall, Loucks, Rutherford and New1ove, 1975)

Applying the Concerns-Based Adoption Model to Research on Computers in Education


The third diagnostic dimension of the CBAM is the Innovation Configuration. It shows the innovation and its operational forms (Newhouse, 2001). Also, the IC explains what an innovation looks like in practice for different teachers. Different procedures can be used such as survey, interview, or observation to measure how teachers are implementing a change (Anderson, 1997).

Change Facilitators

School principals as change facilitators should understand teachers' interests about a change, their level of use and their configuration of change. This information is useful for designing interventions for effective innovation, planning, and providing professional development opportunities for teachers in change implementation (Anderson, 1997). According to Hall, Rutherford, Hord and Huling (1984), the interventions that is used by principals can be categorized as 'training', 'developing supportive organizational arrangements', 'monitoring and evaluating' and 'providing consultation and reinforcement'. The frequency and manner of these interventions can influence the successful implementation of a change. Moreover they added that change facilitators use different styles in implementing change such as initiator, manager and responder.


The CBAM is a change model and has been generally accepted in educational studies, particularly in studying the adoption of educational innovations. CBAM is a suitable model for creating the technological change for teachers and it focuses on understanding of individual's attitudes, beliefs, and feelings (Adams, 2002; Ansah and Johnson, 2003; Dobbs, 2004; Gershner and Snider, 2001; Lienert, Sherrill and Myers, 2001; Newhouse, 2001). Moreover, it provides a developed framework for change and this framework considers change as a process and identifies that feeling, knowledge and skill of individuals should change in the change process. Hence, CBAM can be applied as a tool to examine the integration of technology. It not only considers the affective (Concerns) aspects of individuals regarding the innovation also it focuses on the behavioral (Levels of Use) aspects of individuals (Newhouse, 2001).

Applying the Concerns-Based Adoption Model to Research on Computers in Education


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Technology and Education: Issues, Empirical Research and Applications

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