The Academic Use of WhatsApp and Technostress: Investigating the Experience of Fatigue and Coping Behaviours among University Students

Al Abdullateef, Hafsa (2022) The Academic Use of WhatsApp and Technostress: Investigating the Experience of Fatigue and Coping Behaviours among University Students. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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The use of mobile instant messaging applications, such as WhatsApp, WeChat and Facebook messengers, has grown remarkably in recent years. WhatsApp is one of the most adopted mobile messaging apps, with two billion users worldwide. Due to its popularity among students, WhatsApp is being increasingly adopted for learning purposes in higher education. WhatsApp can provide students with various benefits that facilitate online learning and knowledge exchanges. However, despite these benefits, using WhatsApp can also have negative effects for students and their well-being. Research has demonstrated that the excessive use and heavy reliance on information and communication technology (ICT) can lead to technostress, a phenomenon that refers to the stress experienced by individuals due to the use of ICT. Thus, although WhatsApp offers students an effortless and fast means for communication and information sharing, the use of WhatsApp for academic and non-academic-related purposes can create fatigue for students. Research indicates that university students are vulnerable to different sources of stress including academic stressors. With the increased use of mobile technology for learning, students could face an additional source of academic stress caused by the educational use of technology. While there has been a growing interest in studying the educational benefits of using mobile instant messaging, there is still a lack of understanding around its negative effects on students and their academic performance. Addressing this issue becomes important given the consequences of technostress on individuals. The current study, therefore, aims to shed light on the negative aspects of the educational use of WhatsApp. Using the transactional model of stress and coping, the study seeks to explore factors that cause fatigue among university students when using WhatsApp for learning purposes and investigate students’ coping behaviours to reduce fatigue.

The study was conducted in two phases. In the first phase, a qualitative exploratory study was conducted to identify the main reasons for the experience of fatigue and to understand coping behaviours. The data were collected through semi-structured interviews with 21 students. The findings of the interviews were used to guide the development of the conceptual research model. In the second phase, a cross-sectional survey approach was used to examine the proposed research model. The data were collected via online questionnaires from 1,188 students between March and April 2020 during the COVID-19 lockdown. The data were analysed using partial least squares structural equation modelling. The participants in both phases were undergraduate students at a public university in Saudi Arabia. The findings suggest that a consequence of using WhatsApp for learning purposes is that students suffer from fatigue, which leads to the perception of decreased performance. The reasons for the experience of fatigue were information overload, communication overload, distraction, and invasion of privacy. Students engaged in two main coping strategies in order to deal with stressors and fatigue: disturbance handling, and self-preservation strategies. The findings also revealed that during the shift to remote learning, students faced technostress mainly because of the increased adoption of ICT for teaching and learning, a high level of technology dependence, increased communication and an increase of academic work, particularly group-based work which required the use of WhatsApp and other ICT. Overall, this study extends existing technostress and coping research by examining technology-related stressors and coping behaviours in the context of the educational use of WhatsApp. The findings of the current study provide insights and guidelines for decision-makers, educators and institutions in higher education with regard to the use of mobile instant messaging in education. Understanding fatigue associated with academic use and coping strategies to deal with fatigue can help students to reduce techno-stressors, thus enhancing the effectiveness of mobile learning via WhatsApp.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Thomas, Chesney
Robert, Pasley
Keywords: Technostress, information overload, communication overload, fatigue, coping, WhatsApp, educational technology
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1050 Educational psychology
T Technology > TK Electrical engineering. Electronics Nuclear engineering > TK5101 Telecommunication
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > Nottingham University Business School
Item ID: 71533
Depositing User: Alabdullateef, Hafsa
Date Deposited: 16 Nov 2023 14:58
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2023 14:58

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