Teachers' use of social media: exploring implications of interpersonal relations between teachers and middle school students in Turkey

Durgungoz, Ahmet (2018) Teachers' use of social media: exploring implications of interpersonal relations between teachers and middle school students in Turkey. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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This is a qualitative study of the use of social media as a mediating agent between three teachers in Turkey and their students, whose age range was 12-15. This research was designed to discover how teachers’ communicative acts occur around three iconic social-media tools - YouTube, Google+ and WhatsApp. It also reports students’ understanding of such communicative acts as they influence the teacher/student relationship.

Over the last decade, there has been a growing interest among researchers in exploring the use of social media for educational purposes. Studies have investigated learning and teaching recruiting the use of social media, particularly in higher education. To date, however, there is a dearth of studies regarding how teachers approach social media with the aim of fostering their relationship with students in the Middle School age range. Two main research questions were addressed in relation to this gap: a) What repertoires of communication arise following the adoption of social media by teachers of middle school classes? and b) How are perceptions of teacher identity and teacher-student relationships influenced by teachers’ adoption of social media?

As encouraged by the interpretivist paradigm on which this study is based, students’ and teachers’ voices were given analytic priority to explore how the participants reflected their understanding of the teacher/student interactions which occur on social media. A qualitative case study approach was adopted and methods of interview, online documentation and observation were employed to generate field data. The inductive thematic content analysis approach (Braun & Clarke, 2006) was applied to this data.

The findings suggest that the use of social media as a medium between teachers and middle-school students was valuable for fostering in students a more positive attitude towards their teachers. A sharp distinction was reported by the participants between communication practices within social media and within face-to-face classroom contexts. Social media were favoured for being more informal. The findings indicate that digital social media not only offer a variety of communication channels which foster teacher/student interactions but also restructure these interactions by giving teachers an opportunity to project a different identity, in particular a more flexible and informal one. Each of the three case studies illustrated the variety of ways in which the design of social media can configure distinctive and challenging forms of new communication practice.

The findings of this study contribute to our understanding that the teacher/student relationship can be further nurtured within secondary education through the exploratory use of social-media tools such as YouTube, Google+ and WhatsApp. When the necessary motivation and appropriate utilisation exist, an informal usage of social-media tools outside school hours might allow the creation of a warmer classroom atmosphere in which middle-school students might feel a sense of closeness towards their teachers. The findings suggest conducting more qualitative studies which explore teachers’ use of social media with middle-school students in order to better identify the potential challenges and conflicts which teachers and students could face such as the implications of observed hyper-use of these media on the work-life balance of teachers and institutional and societal resistance to this form of teacher-student exchange on social media.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Crook, Charles
Fisher, Tony
Keywords: social media, teacher-student relationship, online learning, teacher-student interaction, community of inquiry, online interactions
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1024 Teaching
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Education
Item ID: 49471
Depositing User: Durgungoz, Ahmet
Date Deposited: 16 Jul 2018 04:40
Last Modified: 08 May 2020 08:04
URI: https://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/49471

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