The Importance of Social Media for International Students

The Importance of Social Media for International Students Fahd Alghofaili

Abstract: Using social media for educational purposes has increased during the last few years. This increase has been proven by many studies especially in the developed countries. International students, who come from different part of this world assumed to use this affective tool to improve their education. According to this, this research’s hypothesis is that most international students use social media for educational purposes, and this usage positively affects the educational progress of international students. To confirm all the study’s hypotheses and to answer its questions, a survey was created and given to thirty one international students, who affectively participated and answered this survey. Some of their answers have proven the research’s hypotheses, such as international students use social media for an educational progress, and social media positively affects their educational progress. In addition to this, the responses have answered all the study’s questions.

Introduction: Social media has become very popular worldwide, and it has been used for educational purposes, and this encourages international students to benefit from it. These new type of websites has provide a useful tools to communicate with other, especially inside the academic field. The widespread of social networks has helped academic staff and students to achieve more communication tools, and this could improve learning (Roblyer, et al 2010). Oradini (2008) has mention that the number of young students, in the UK, who use social networks such as Facebook and MySpace has increased and helped to locate and share knowledge. This research aims to find if international students use this new tool for educational purposes or not. The main question of the study is about the effect of social media on the educational progress of international students. This main question accompanied by other sub questions. The research assumes that social media positively affects the educational progress of international students. This hypothesis and the related sub hypotheses would be discussed in details. Regardless of the result of this study, social media is almost certain to be a significant way for learning, and international students should use it especially for this purpose.

Research’s questions:

For the purposes of this study the specific research questions were:

  • How does social media affect the educational progress of international students?
  • Dose social media affect positively the educational process of international students?
  • Do international students use social media for educational purposes?
  • Is social media usage considered as a waste of time for international students?
  • Do international students use social media during lectures?
  • Who more dose use social media for educational purposes male or female?
  • Do teachers encourage their international students to use social media?
  • Do teachers use social media to contract their international students?
  • Do international students use more than one type of social media for educational purposes?

Main hypothesis: Most international students use the social media for educational purposes.

Related sub-hypotheses:

  • The social media positively affects the educational progress of international students.
  • Most international students think they do not waste their time when they use social media.
  • Most international students do not use social media during lecture.
  • Most international students use social media to share academic materials.
  • Teachers do not encourage their international students to use social media.
  • Teachers do not use social media to contact their international students.
  • Most international students use more than one type of social media for educational purposes.

To get answers to these question, a survey – contains twelve question – was prepared, and the researchers tried to make questions that would help to answer the study’s questions and give a clear picture for the research’s hypotheses to prove if they are right or wrong. This survey has been answered by thirty one international students, who are studying in the presessional program. Before they began their interviews, the researchers had notice that the majority of international students are from three main parts: Arab, Kurdish, and Chinese, so it was important to get a balanced respondents. In addition to that, the other nationalities, such as Greece, Vietnam, and Sweden were taken in account and included in this study. The survey was made to provide a quantitative data to be used when comparing the answers with the study’s hypotheses and exam them if they are right or not. This survey was made on paper and tested by the researchers, before its submission through smart-survey website. The next step was to involve the participated respondents who were asked to answer the survey and get any assistance – if needed – from one of the researchers, and there was no need to send the survey’s link to the interviewee’s emails. As a result of this method, all the responses were done within one hour. These answers were collected and analyzed electronically by the website without any involvement from the researchers.

Discussing and evaluating the results:

1. age
  Response Percent Response Total
1 16 – 20
 
9.68% 3
2 21 – 25
 
48.39% 15
3 26 – 35
 
29.03% 9
4 36 or more
 
12.90% 4
  answered 31
skipped 0

The results show that more than 48% of the interviewed students are between 21 – 25 years old. The ages 26 to 35 come in the second place, where more than 29% of students in these ages.  The chart below shows that more than 70% of international students use social media for educational purposes, which ensure a study’s related sub-hypothesis that has assumed that most international students use the social media for educational purposes.

4. Do you use social media for educational purpose?
  Response Percent Response Total
1 Yes
 
70.97% 22
2 No
 
29.03% 9
  answered 31
skipped 0

5. Do you use social media during lectures?
  Response Percent Response Total
1 Yes
 
51.61% 16
2 No
 
48.39% 15
8. International students use social media in lecture.
1 Agree
 
77.42% 24
2 Disagree
 
22.58% 7
  answered 31
skipped 0

It was surprising, to discover that the majority of international students – 51.61% – have stated that they use social media during lectures, and more that 77% of them agree that international students use social media during lectures. These two results oppose one of the study’s related sub-hypothesis which has suggested that most international students do not use social media during lectures.

The main hypothesis of the study has stated that social media positively affects the educational progress of international students. According to the results of the survey this hypothesis was proven strongly, when around 67% of international students have said that they think that social media positively affects their educational progress, while 3.33% have said no. The rest of international students – 30% – have stated that they have no idea about this suggestion.

6. Do you think social media positively affects the educational progress of international students?
  Response Percent Response Total
1 Yes
 
66.67% 20
2 No
 
3.33% 1
3 No Idea
 
30.00% 9
  answered 30
skipped 1

7. Do you consider the usage of social media as a waste of time?
  Response Percent Response Total
1 Yes
 
32.14% 9
2 No
 
67.86% 19
  answered 28
skipped 3

The result of the seventh question supports the study’s related sub-hypothesis that assumes that most international students think they do not waste their time when they use social media, when around 68% of them chose no when they were asked if they consider the usage of social media as a waste of time.

Although the majority of interviewed students have chosen a neutral answer for the ninth question, which has stated that teachers encourage their international students to use social media, 16.31% and 29.03% completely agree and agree respectively that teachers do so. This result proves that the study’s related sub-hypothesis that suggests that Teachers do not encourage their international students to use social media is wrong, as shown in the chart below.

9. Teachers encourage their international students to use social media.
  Response Percent Response Total
1 Completely Agree
 
16.13% 5
2 Agree
 
29.03% 9
3 Neutral
 
51.61% 16
4 Disagree   0.00% 0
5 Completely disagree
 
3.23% 1
  answered 31
skipped 0

10. Do teachers use social media to share academic materials with their international students?
  Response Percent Response Total
1 Yes
 
67.74% 21
2 No
 
32.26% 10
  answered 31
skipped 0

Even though the study has assumed that Teachers do not use social media to contact their international students, the results show that this assumption was not correct, when around 68% of international students chose yes for that question.

The study’s related sub-hypothesis was proven by the interviewed students when more than 64% of them say that they use two and three or more types of social media.

11. How many types of social media do you use for educational purposes?
  Response Percent Response Total
1 One
 
19.35% 6
2 Two
 
35.48% 11
3 Three or more
 
29.03% 9
4 Do not use
 
16.13% 5
  answered 31
skipped 0

Conclusion:

This research has proven the importance of social media for the educational progress of international students. It has demonstrated that these websites positively affect this educational progress. This fact was one of eight hypotheses suggested in this research. In addition to these hypotheses, nine questions were addressed and answered by the interviewees. The results of these answers were discussed and evaluated and they have proved five of the research’s eight hypotheses. It is almost certain to be students from all around the world including international students are using social media for educational purposes. Although this study has proven the usage of social media by international students for educational purposes, the small number of respondents cannot give a clear picture for such important subject. However, the researchers strongly recommend farther research to achieve a clear image of this issue. Regardless of this suggestion, it appears that international students value the importance of social network for their educational career.

 Fahd Alghofaili

References:

  • Oradini, F. & Saunders, G. (2008). THE USE OF SOCIAL NETWORKING BY STUDENTS AND STAFF IN HIGHER EDUCATION. Online Learning Development.
  • Roblyer, M.D., McDaniel, M., Webb M., Herman, J. & Witty, J. V. (2010). Findings on Facebook in higher education: A comparison of college faculty and student uses and perceptions of social networking sites. University of Tennessee.