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An exploration of students' lived experiences of using smartphones in diverse learning contexts using a hermeneutic phenomenological approach

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Caroline Walker-Gleaves



This study describes young people's experiences of using smartphones, by exploring what it means toacquire, possess, and create a purpose for these personal mobile devices within the complex and fluidcontexts of formal and informal learning. Applying the principles and practices of hermeneutic phenomenology,this study's methods comprised the use of interviews and written reflective exercises. 12youths ranging from 16 to 19 years old participated in 3 rounds of semi-structured interviews over aperiod of 6 months. The findings reveal that participants' smartphone appropriation is associated withself-identity and management of their image as it is perceived by salient others, including peers andteachers. Furthermore, the participants' smartphone use is dependant upon their perception of learningvalueand subject to influences concerning the status of knowledge, from their peers, parents and thecommunity at large. The findings would suggest that the significance that young people attach to thisform of mobile device use and the transferability of such behaviours and uses across spaces, time anddimensions in learning contexts is critically a function of particular smartphone adoption at a culturalrather than pedagogic level. Further research including rich qualitative studies is suggested to bettertheorize the phenomenon of smartphone use in learning contexts through engaging with cultural andsocial perspectives.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Chan NN, Walker C, Gleaves A

Publication type: Article

Journal: Computers & Education

Year: 2015

Volume: 82

Pages: 96-106

Online publication date: 18/11/2014

Acceptance date: 03/11/2014

Print publication date: 01/03/2015

ISSN (print): 0360-1315

ISSN (electronic): 1873-782X

Publisher: Elsevier


DOI: 10.1016/j.compedu.2014.11.001


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