The perception of interpersonal relations between instructors and students as experienced within classroom and online communication: a mixed method case study of undergraduate women in a Saudi institution

Alamri, Jamilah Mohammed (2016) The perception of interpersonal relations between instructors and students as experienced within classroom and online communication: a mixed method case study of undergraduate women in a Saudi institution. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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This thesis contributes to the understanding of the instructor-student relationship construct, and social media adoption in higher education systems that are generally characterised by a formal quality, and that of Saudi Arabia in particular. The potential impact of social media, as it leaks into higher education practice globally, is of great concern and cannot be overlooked by research. A formal education system, such as that of Saudi, is a convenient case study for examining two overarching aims of this thesis. The first is to explore the resilience of established instructor-student interaction practices and the character of the relationships within a Saudi university classroom context. The second aim is to explore the ways in which evolving social media reconfigures the formal quality of instructors’ interaction practices within the Saudi culture in a social media context. These two aims are explored in a mixed methods case study consisting of two inter-related studies: Study 1 and Study 2.

The mixed method Study 1 surveyed students about their perceptions of the classroom environment, and through questionnaires collected both instructors' and students’ perceptions of the quality of their interpersonal relationships. Instructors were interviewed and students participated in focus groups to illuminate the quantitative findings. The findings paint a general picture of traditional, formal teaching traditions and instructor-student relationships that are a result of several contextual factors mainly related to the Saudi educational system. Participants’ views of optimum interpersonal positive behaviours are hindered in becoming apparent, not only by the physical place where teaching and learning within this traditional cultural educational system is played out, but also the stable, traditional, pedagogical paradigm that has been exercised and maintained over the years. The study suggests that many ‘unrevealed’ informal behaviours from instructors constrained by the system could be released within other enabling environments, such as social media.

Study 2, exploring interaction practices of students and instructors through social media, was achieved by examining instructors’ conversations with students, via social networking applications, for any existing, informal, interpersonal texts and the ways in which they emerge over time. A mixed methods approach through statistical trend and content analysis was conducted to explore this investigation. The findings reveal a discrepancy between instructors’ formal practices in a classroom context and their discursive practices within social media. All interpersonal behaviours that appeared to be restricted in a face-to-face context, such as humour, self-disclosure, reassurance and many more, are seen to be gradually released within a social media context. Although instructor variations exist, the tendency towards increased informality over time was evident in the text of most participants. Thus, interaction through social media may set the conditions for revitalized relationships within such an educational ecology in both social media exchanges and face-to-face classrooms.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Crook, Charles
Fisher, Tony
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Education
Item ID: 37604
Depositing User: Alamri, Jamilah
Date Deposited: 15 Dec 2016 06:40
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2017 21:37

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