knowledge sharing

Topics: Educational psychology, Education, Learning Pages: 34 (8955 words) Published: May 2, 2014
Malaysian Journal of Learning and Instruction: Vol. 10 (2013): 1-27


Sarimah Shaik Abdullah1, Aizan Yaacob &
Fauziah Abdul Rahim
School of Education and Modern Languages
Universiti Utara Malaysia
Corresponding author:


Purpose – This paper is part of a larger study which explored postgraduate students talk around academic texts via Facebook (FB). Our exploration is largely guided by the idea of reading as a social practice. In this paper, we specifically focus on the students’ reflections of their online experience of talking around academic texts. Method – The qualitative data used in this paper were derived from students’ reflective diaries, students’ FB interactions, and informal conversations and were collected from a group of students (27) attending a master’s class in distance learning mode. Thematic analysis was conducted to examine the themes that emerged to represent their reflections.

Findings – The students’ reflections were grouped into two major categories: convenience and facilitation of learning. Students’ reflection on the convenience afforded by the FB talk centered mainly on the idea of distance and time. Their reflections on the facilitation of learning were broken down into the following themes: safe environment to explore, social support, self-regulation and autonomy. A separate category, “FB entries need responding”, was assigned to students’ comments about the importance of lecturer’s and group members’ feedback.

Value – This study revealed the potential of FB as a convenient, safe and an informal avenue for students to share their understandings and reading-related problems. The informal nature of their FB


Malaysian Journal of Learning and Instruction: Vol. 10 (2013): 1-27

experience supported free exploration of ideas without the worry of having to appear “clever”.
Keywords: social media, adult learners, academic reading, talk around text
Reading assigned materials such as research articles from scholarly journals, is part and parcel of the learning process for postgraduate learners. Instructors often insist that students read prior to class meetings as this can help them participate actively (Lineweaver, 2010; Sappington, Kinsey & Munsayac, 2002; Wandersee, 1988). However, students often resist the task (Lei, Bartlett, Gorney & Herschbach, 2010).

At the master’s level, reading can be demanding and difficult as students are faced with unfamiliar concepts and long articles (Alverman & Qian, 1994; Taraban, Rynearson & Kerr, 2000).
The challenge may be intensified for students who read in English as a second or foreign language as most research articles are in English. Limited proficiency can make reading very taxing and time consuming, especially for part-time master’s students studying in long distance mode, who have to juggle between their professional commitments, personal commitments and their academic studies commitments (Kaur & Thiyagarajah, 1999; Ross-Gordon, 2011).

Given these various challenges, many may choose not to read, resulting in a “major breakdown” in class discussions, as well as assignment completion and exam performance (Sappington et al., 2002). Additionally, it has been found that students do not read when reading is not formally assessed (Connor-Greene, 2005). To overcome the problem of non-reading, instructors may give quizzes (Connor-Greene, 2000; Marchant, 2002), graded questions (Uskul & Eaton, 2005), and written assignments (Connor-Greene, 2005) to increase student readiness. However, as Thorne (2000) pointed out, students often view these ways of encouraging them to read as punitive.

Guided by the social constructivist perspective on reading, our literature search for non-punitive interventions revealed face to face talk around text programmes to facilitate struggling readers at school,...

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