A cross cultural comparison of smartphone use in the United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Education, Health & Human Development


Few studies have investigated how university students in the United States or in other countries use smartphone technologies to support their learning. Much of the current research has investigated the general use mobile devices such as smartphones rather than identifying the specific applications used by university students to support their learning. In addition, there is a lack of research investigating the influence of institution, gender and culture on university students' use of smartphones to supporting their learning. The purpose of this study was to investigate how US university students and university students from Saudi Arabia use smartphone for learning in the undergraduate teacher education courses. A total of 249 undergraduate teacher education students from Montana State University and 320 undergraduate students from King Kahlid University, Saudi Arabia were surveyed to assess their use of smartphone applications to support their learning. Results from the 43 item smartphone survey found that MSU students reported using their smartphones "sometime to often" during class and outside of classroom setting while KKU students on the other hand reported using smartphones "Never or Rarely" during class or outside of class. The most frequent use of smartphones by MSU students reported was for communicating and collaborating with others by texting or through email. The most frequent uses of smartphones reported by KKU students during and outside of class were for "communicating with others by texting and "accessing course information". Although MSU and KKU students differed significantly on some of the items assessing smartphone use in and outside of the classroom, the differences were very small in magnitude. Both MSU and KKU students reported that they "never or rarely" observed others using their smartphones to dishonestly to complete assignments or during quizzes and exams. Results from this study indicate that smartphone applications are under utilized as a learning tool in higher education. As university students continue to have greater access to mobile devices, university faculty should consider ways to develop courses that are accessible by smartphones and other mobile devices to increase student learning opportunities.




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