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Title: Saudi women students and educational uses of Twitter : practices, perceptions, and identities
Author: Aladsani, Hibah
ISNI:       0000 0004 7960 3524
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis explores how Saudi female university students use Twitter for educational purposes and their opinions about its educational potential. In addition, it examines how students use Twitter to present their academic identities and how Twitter affects their academic discourse. I focused on female students because I wanted to investigate how Twitter affects how they communicate with the opposite gender in general and in particular academically, and how it could help Saudi women make their voices heard in a society largely dominated by men. This study used a qualitative methodology. The data were collected through semi- structured interviews with 15 participants from King Faisal University (KFU) and a content analysis of their Twitter posts. The data were thematically analysed using NVivo. This study found that the students' use of Twitter was mainly student-directed; for the most part, they did not use Twitter because teachers requested them to. Moreover, the participants used Twitter for educational purposes in two ways: to support their university studies and to support their language learning. The study also found that the participants typically presented three components of their academic identities: They shared their academic disciplines, identified themselves as students at KFU, and used academic hashtags. While interpreting the findings of this research question, I found Goffman's (1959) theories to be helpful for understanding how the students used Twitter to present the academic aspects of their identities. Furthermore, Goffman's theories were also useful for interpreting the findings of the first research question. The participants identified several ways that Twitter expanded the sphere of their academic discourse: They followed and interacted with teachers and students from their university and from other universities, reached particular audiences, and communicated with people of the opposite gender. In addition, they used Twitter to engage in several types of academic interactions. These included requesting and offering academic assistance, interactions that reinforcing academic relationships, and engaging in academic discussions. The findings showed that Saudi culture impacted how the students used Twitter and that, simultaneously, Twitter impacted Saudi culture. Moreover, using the constructivist paradigm to study social phenomena without any predeveloped assumptions or theories revealed some interesting and unexpecting findings. An example of this is the strategies the participants used to learn a foreign language. A further example is the creative strategies they used to follow and interact with academics on Twitter. These findings contribute to our understanding of how students use Twitter in their academic lives to support their education, to present their academic identities, and to engage in academic discourse. This research offers valuable insights into how Twitter is and can be used for formal and informal learning. The research also provides some recommendations for future studies.
Supervisor: Davies, Julia ; Herrick, Tim Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available