Saudi Students’ Attitudes Toward Using Social Media to Support Learning

Hanan Ahmad Aifan

Abstract


Social media usage is growing at an exponential rate among the present generation of students. Yet, there are paucity empirical studies that determine the use of social media in education to support students’ learning. Thus, this study aims to investigate factors and barriers affecting Saudi students’ attitudes toward using social media to support learning at King Abdul-Aziz University, Jeddah. Data were collected using an electronic survey.

510 male and female students participated in this study. The hypothesized model was developed through the Social Learning Theories of Bandura and Vygotsky, the Technology Acceptance Model of Davis, and the Diffusion of Innovation model of Rogers. Findings of the study revealed that the students have positive attitudes (M= 3.99, SD=.76) toward using social media to support learning. 99.1% of the participants use social media; for social communication (M=4.27, SD= .98) and for learning (M= 3.83, SD= .97). Among six examples of social media used in the study (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, WhatsApp, Wikipedia, and Skype), the most frequently used tool by students was WhatsApp (M= 4.60, SD=.88), with which students have the highest experience (M=4.59, SD=.55).

Students reported facing some barriers when utilizing social media for learning (M=2.62, SD=.55). The two major barriers were that some of the social media contents are against the students’ religion (M=4.12, SD=1.11), and concerns about privacy and security issues related to the usage of social media (M=3.72, SD=1.19). Male students (2.69 with SD=.51) encountered more barriers when using social media to support learning than female students did (2.57 with SD=.47). However, there was no significant difference between the two groups in their attitudes toward using social media to support learning, with t (508)= -.12, p> .05.

Only five predictors from the eleven selected variables were significant predictors of attitudes of the students toward using social media to support learning: perceived ease of use (β=.11, p=.002), perceived usefulness (β=.62, p=.00), subjective norm (β=.13, p= .00), experience with Skype (β=.07, p=.02), and age (β=.07, p=.02). The strongest predictor of attitudes of the students was perceived usefulness of social media in learning (β=.62, p=.00). However, conservativeness level and experience with Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, WhatsApp, and Wikipedia were not significant predictors of students’ attitudes.

There was a significant and positive relationship between the overall attitudes of the students and their behavioral intention toward using social media to support their learning, with r(508)= .67, p=.00. However, the study has practical implications for educators and educational policy makers. As social media tools attract much of the students’ attention, more research on developing effective methods for instructors to use social media to support students’ learning is needed.