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Running head: How social media can support critical thinking skills

How Social Media Can Support Critical Thinking Skills


Prepared by
Farzana Balapatel
University of Ontario Institute of Technology
Student Number: 100132603

Prepared for
Jordanne Christie
AEDT4201U: Thesis II
University of Ontario Institute of Technology
Oshawa, Ontario

How social media can support critical thinking skills

Table of Contents
Abstract4
Introduction ..5
How Social Media Can Support Critical Thinking Skills
Main research question and sub questions
The significance of this study for educators and learners...........................6
Definition of Terms..7
Theoretical framework
Social Constructivism8
Connectivism.9
Literature Review........11
How is SMT used in Higher Education?...11
Student engagement..12
Types of Social Media Tools.13
The obstacles in using SMT..13
Core critical thinking skills...14
Components of critical thinking15
Link between SMT and critical thinking skill.......15
Methodology....................................................................................................................................16
Data Collection..........................17
Data Analysis.17
Coding18

How social media can support critical thinking skills

Findings and Discussions ..20


Interaction and collaboration ..22
Interpretation and analysis...23
Motivation, creativity and self-regulation...23
Meta- cognition and the instructional methods used in SMT..24
Types of SMT in online learning and explanation and inferencing skills....25
Conclusion...26
Future recommendation........................................................................................................27
References..........................................................................................................................................2
8

How social media can support critical thinking skills

Abstract
Social media technologies are gaining popularity in todays education. The purpose of this
study was to understand how it is being implemented in the fields of higher education. Educators
from higher education have been accentuating the importance of inculcating critical thinking skill
in learners. A qualitative meta-synthesis method was exercised to determine if social media
technologies can support critical thinking skills in higher education. Using the principles of social
constructivism and Connectivism as the theoretical framework, Facoins (1990) six core critical
thinking skills and components of critical thinking skills were used as deductive codes to analyze
the data collection. Some of the key findings of this study indicate that SMT allows interactions
and collaboration among learners and can increase student engagement and self-regulation skills
in learners. Some SMT platforms such as Facebook, wikis and blogs were found to be more
popular among learners and educators. While the results of this study indicate implication for
further research in this field, it also confirms that social media technologies can support learners
critical thinking abilities effectively when educators monitor the interactions of learners on social
media platforms and provide prompts and feedback when required.

How social media can support critical thinking skills

Chapter 1 Introduction
How Social Media Can Support Critical Thinking Skills
Computer Mediated Communication (CMC) permits learners to discover their own
learning style by granting them the independence of using diverse approaches and techniques
(Collins &Berge, 2001). The learner's ability to create their own knowledge is enhanced when
instructors incorporate various CMC techniques in instructional delivery methods (Jeong, 2003).
Social media technologies such as wikis and blogs, and social networking and microblogging
tools including Facebook, and Twitter can be considered valuable tools for such Computer
Mediated Communication.
Social Media Technologies (SMT) have become an integral part of our daily life, and they
empower social behaviour via sharing information, ongoing conversations, and reflection
(Blaschke, 2014). Over the course of last ten years, SMT have changed the way we think about
our relationship, associations, and correspondence to others. Unlike other communication
technology, SMT links people together in a way that gives them a conventional feeling of
connectivity with each other (Davis III, 2012). SMT are transforming the way students share
information, communicate, and collaborate (Tess, 2013). Educators and students have both started
to utilize SMT for many reasons. Educators widely use various digital communication tools to
communicate with their students. The use of blogs and wikis are popular for individual and group
assignments, and Facebook and Twitter are being used for creating engagement and interaction
between students (Seaman & Tinti-Kane, 2013). It is important to examine to what extent SMT
are being used to facilitate learners success as this can be vital in analysing what role SMT play
in students engagement and critical thinking process.

How social media can support critical thinking skills

Critical thinking requires higher order thinking skills beyond simply memorizing and
collecting information (Fasawang, 2015). The ability to think critically is imperative for students
as it can be beneficial for their professional and personal growth (Fasawang, 2015). Recent studies
have discovered that SMT such as discussion forums and blogs have the potential to develop
critical thinking skills and deep learning in students (Maurino, 2006).The objective of this thesis is
to examine how SMT can support critical thinking skills in higher education.
Main research question and sub questions.
The main research for this study is:
How can SMT support critical thinking skills in higher education? The following subquestions will be examined to emphasize the importance of using SMT to encourage critical
thinking in higher education.
1.

How are educators incorporating SMT into their instruction?

2.

What SMT are best used to support critical thinking skills?

The significance of this study for educators and learners.


The results of this research can benefit educators, educational administrators, and students.
Educators will be able to examine this thesis and apply the information from here into their
teaching and learning practices by incorporating SMT that can enhance critical thinking skills. On
the other hand, educational administrators can determine what types of SMT they may want to use
in their faculty to increase critical thinking skills in their students. Learners that are conducting
similar research related to social media can use this thesis to support their learning.

How social media can support critical thinking skills

Definition of Terms
Critical Thinking: Mulnix suggests that critical thinking can be defined as "an ability to make
effective decisions, solving problems, observing our own thoughts and a process which is based
on research, intuition, logic, and experience and universal values" (Mulnix, 2012). All of these
attributes can be part of higher education through the use numerous social media platforms.

Social Constructivism: Social Constructivism emphasizes collective learning. It suggests that the
best method of learning is group learning' and learning takes place on learners experience,
knowledge, habits, and preferences. And learner's culture also has an influence on his learning
(Kundi & Nawaz, 2010).

Connectivisim: In Connectivism, learning occurs once knowledge is distributed and when learner
connects with the learning society to circulate information (Kop & Hill, 2008). It further proposes
that knowledge and learning remain in the diversity of opinions (Siemens, 2014).

Metacognition: Metacognition refers to higher order thinking process and the ability to manage
these process by monitoring, organizing and evaluating them for learning purposes (Hammond,
Austin, Cheung and Martin, n.d.).

Motivation: Motivation is defined as a reason for a particular behaviour. An attribute that moves
us to do or not to do something (Lai, 2011).

How social media can support critical thinking skills

Chapter 2 Theoretical framework


The major theories that will create the framework for this research will be Social
Constructivism and Connectivism. This paper will attempt to make a connection between these
theories and SMT and how they can support critical thinking skills in learners.

How social media can support critical thinking skills

Figure 1

Theories
Consturctivisim
Connevtivisim

Indepandant
Variables
Use of SMT in
teaching and
learning

Depedant
Variables
Increase in
critical thinking.
Increase in
reflective
thinking.

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Social Constructivism
According to the Social Constructivism theory, ideas are constructed through interaction
and discussion with educators and other learners. Social interaction and collaboration are an
integral part of learning, and critical thinking is formed via social interaction among the students
in a collaborative learning environment (Kalina & Powel, 2009). Social interaction has a major
effect on how learning occurs (Kalina & Powel, 2009). SMT provides learners the opportunity to
connect with peers in an interactive manner. Social media platform such as blogs, wikis and
forums give learners the opportunity to communicate and collaborate with other members of the
community. Thus, SMT can support the social constructivist belief that learning occurs more
effectively when learners have support from others around them (Kalina & Powel).

Connectivism
Connectivism is seen as the learning theory of the digital age (Siemens, 2014).
"Connectivism is driven by the understanding that decisions are based on rapidly altering
foundations. New information is continually being acquired. The ability to draw distinctions
between important and unimportant information is vital. The ability to recognize when new
information alters the landscape based on decisions made yesterday is also critical" (Siemens,
2005).
Technology performs many activities that were previously performed by the learner, such
as storage and retrieval of information. According to Siemens (2014) learning theories should be
adjusted with the time where knowledge can be acquired by many different techniques that
involve technology. Siemens further argues that theories such as behaviorism, constructivism and
cognitivism do not reflect the fact that learning can occur outside of people (i.e. learning through

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technology) and states that Connectivisim can be considered as the learning theory for the digital
age (Mattar, 2010).

Figure 2
The Cycle of knowledge development according to Connectivisim (Siemens, 2005).

shared
with
Network
Feeds it in to
Organization

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As seen in the above figure individual knowledge is encompassed via one's network which
feeds into the organization. Organization in return feeds back into the network and network to
individual again. This cycle of knowledge development allows the learner to stay current and
connected into their field of knowledge (Siemens, 2005). It can be argued that SMT can play an
integral part in providing this network to learners as SMT offers many communication platforms
to learners.

Chapter 3 Literature Review.


While there is some research on the use of SMT in education, there is a greater need to
expand research on how SMT can be used to support critical thinking. This literature review will
discuss how SMT is used in higher education and what types of SMT are more popular among
educators. It will also look at what educators think are some of the main barriers in using SMT in
higher education.
Kundi and Nawaz (2010) propose the need for wider research on teaching practices and
development of e-learning environments for learners to acquire critical thinking skills. Current
literature indicates that critical thinking and knowledge construction has become vital in this new
technological environment (Wang, Woo & Zhao, 2009). Wang et al. conducted a study on the
web-based learning environment and the results of this study confirmed that online interaction
among learners and writing online reflection via SMT such as blogs and wikis had potential to
increase students critical thinking process.
How is SMT used in Higher Education?
The use of SMT is gaining popularity both inside and outside of the classroom (Blaschke,
2014). SMT has become an important communication tool for both faculty and learners.

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Institutions that use SMT to connect with their students experience good communication and good
marketing (Benedict, 2014). Pearson Learning Solutions and Babson Survey Research Groups
study indicates that over 80% of educators are using SMT for their personal use, 41% of this use
is for teaching and learning purposes. This research gathered data from various university and
colleges from Carnegie Classification of Institutions in the United States. Educators with diverse
background, qualification, and different age groups participated in this study. In the initial stage of
the survey a total of 1.5 million teaching faculties were included and in the final stage a total of
8,016 educators contributed in the survey (Seaman & Tinti-Kane 2013).
The following table encompasses some details about how educators practice SMT in their
class for student assignments. Data in this chart was compiled by Pearson Learning Solutions and
Babson Survey Research Group
Table 1
Faculty use of social media in class and for student assignments (Moran, Seaman and
Tinti-Kane, 2011).
Used in class 64%
Posted content for class 30%
Assigned students to read/view 42%
Assigned students to post 20%
Active use of social media such as designing content in blogs, wikis, websites, and videos
is on the rise (Blaschke, 2014,). In some courses, learners are required to read, review, reflect and
post on social media sites outside of their classroom time. Studies have found that while some
faculty members agree that SMT can enrich communication between learner- to-learner and
learner-to-educators (Blaschke, 2014) and can improve writing abilities and students satisfaction
with their courses, only few educators use SMT in their classroom for teaching and learning

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purposes (Seechaliao, 2015). Some institutions have also begun to use SMT for student
recruitment (Davis III et al, 2012).

Student engagement.
Student engagement can be defined as the time and effort spent by the learners in
educational activities (Kuh, 2001). These activities can include interaction between peers and
educators, as well as between learners-to-learners. According to Rutherford (2010) these activities
can reflect a positive influence on students success. Many surveys and studies have noted a
significant increase in student engagement when educators use social media in their teaching and
learning (Rutherford 2010, Seaman & Tinti-Kane 2013, Davis III 2012).
Student motivation and involvement can be positively influenced by the nature of student
and faculty communication. Through the use of SMT, student interaction with the instructor can
be improved, as SMT can offer many benefits such as flexibility of time and location.
Additionally, SMT offers a collaborative and interactive platform to learners which enrich
learner's engagement (Rutherford, 2010).
Types of Social Media Tools
There are many different types of SMT that are popular in the field of higher education.
While most researchers indicate that most popular SMS (Social Media Site) is Facebook, some
also indicate the popularity of Twitter, blogs and wikis (Seaman & Tinti-Kane 2013; Benedict
2014). It has been noted that the purpose of using Facebook is mainly for student and facultys
personal use, and use of LinkedIn, Blogs and wikis were stated to be more popular for
professional use compared to Facebook and Twitter (Seaman & Tinti-Kane, 2013).

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In a survey by Pearson Learning Solutions, the most popular platform used by the
educators for teaching purpose was blogs, wikis and podcasts followed by LinkedIn, Facebook,
and Twitter. It was notable that the educators expected their students not only to consume content
but also to engage in the creation of content for blogs and wikis as opposed to just reading it and
commenting on it. On the other hand, podcasts were used more for individual assignments.
The obstacles in using SMT.
While SMT is gaining popularity in higher education, there are some obstacles that have
emerged in using SMT for teaching and learning. Some educators argue that using SMT consumes
a large amount of time (Seaman & Tinti-Kane, 2013). Even though some educators consider SMT
usage valuable in higher education, concerns about student's lack of integrity in submission and
privacy matters were also noted amongst the educators. Many educators also considered the lack
of training as a barrier in using SMT (Moran, Seaman and Tinti-Kane, 2011).
The chart below shows result from the Pearson Learning Solutions and Babson Survey Research
Group on some obstacles of using SMT in Class (Moran, Seaman and Tinti-Kane, 2011). It was
recorded that lack of integrity of online submissions was seen as the most important concern while
privacy issues was considered the second important barrier in using SMT. Educators were also
concerned about time consumptions in use of SMT.
Table 2
Obstacles of using SMT in class

Lack of integrity of
online submissions
Time Consuming
Privacy issue
No enough training
Lack of support from

Somewhat important
17%

Important
35%

Very important
43%

26%
21%
24%
26%

34%
29%
34%
28%

27%
43%
27%
15%

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the institution
Core critical thinking skills.
The American Philosophical Association (APA) distributes critical thinking into cognitive
skills and affective disposition (Wetmore A, 2010) and Facoine (1990) outlines six core critical
thinking skills: interpretation, analysis, evaluation, inference, explanation, and self- regulation. He
further breaks down each of these categories into sub-skills for clarification. These skills include
suggestions for instructional and assessment strategies (Facoine, 1990).
This research will examine how these six skills can be fused into instructional methods using
social media tools.
Components of critical thinking.
To delineate the notion of critical thinking researchers have made connections to many
other 21st century skills such as metacognition, motivation, and creativity (Lai E, 2011).
Lai (2011) notes that metacognition can be defined as being aware of your own thinking
and being able to monitor and control your thoughts, she further suggests that critical thinking is
seen as a form of metacognition. Motivation is also related to critical thinking skills. Researchers
have linked student motivation as an essential requirement for critical thinking skills and abilities.
Creativity and critical thinking skills are considered as aspects of purposeful thinking (Lai, 2011).
Lai believes that a certain amount of creativity is necessary for critical thinking and therefore
creativity and critical thinking should be integrated into instruction.
Link between SMT and critical thinking skill
Recent studies have reported that the use of SMT can contribute to learner's critical
thinking skills as it engages them as contributors of the web, not just as consumers (Murino,
2006). Social media tools, like blogs, engage students with questions and ideas. Processes such as

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the deconstruction of blogs such as designing, editing, and adding various functions to blogs can
foster critical thinking in learners (Rizal & Steven, 2012). Wikis allow learners to build, add, and
edit information and support it by their research on any particular topic. This entire process can
contribute to learners critical thinking skills (Rizal & Steven, 2012). According to a survey done at
the University of Maryland University College (UMUC) students felt that the use of SMT helped
them construct new knowledge, gave them an opportunity to reflect, and assisted them in
administering their own learning process (Bleacheke, 2014). Some of the types of SMT that were
used in this study were Twitter, blogs, wiki, Facebook, mind mapping, google docs and diigo.
After reviewing literature on the use of SMT in higher education it is determined that SMT
is gaining popularity among educators. However, the use of SMT is more popular for personal and
professional growth compared to teaching and learning purposes (Seaman & Tinti-Kane 2013). It
was also apparent that SMT can provide an engaging communication platform to educators and
learners that can enhance learners ability to think critically (Murino, 2006). Gaining insight into
the use of SMT in higher education will assist in the progression of this study on how SMT can
support critical thinking skills.
Chapter 4 Methodology
This research paper examined secondary research and employed a qualitative metasynthesis technique. Qualitative meta-synthesis supports in accumulating knowledge from diverse
studies and assists in interpretation of related studies (Beck, 2002). Scholarly journals and articles
that were examined for this study were under the topic of critical thinking skill, constructivism,
connectivism and use of SMT in higher education. Some of my personal experiences and opinions
of educators of higher education were also deemed valuable in the process of this study. The

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approach of this meta-synthesis looked at how certain studies are interconnected. A list of key
themes and concepts will be compared. Studies will interrelate in three ways (Beck, 2002).
1. Studies with direct comparison.
2. Studies that are opposite to each other.
3. Studies that are in line of agreement.
This thesis also surveyed research that exhibit correlation between critical thinking skills
and SMT and reviewed case studies under the topic of SMT.

Data Collection
Google Scholar and UOIT Library were the main sources for retrieving the data. The chief
sources of UOIT Library database are as follows:

ProQuest
EBSCO Publishing
Ovid Technologies
SAGE Journals

The collected articles and journals were initially scanned by reading the abstract and
summery at the opening of the articles. This was done to inspect if the article correlated to the
research questions or not. The search was furthered narrowed by excluding the papers that were
written before 2000. Most of the data that were collected are from sources that were written after
2005. Only higher education research work was included in the studies. All the articles that
discussed K-12 education were omitted from the search criteria. Some of the key terms that were
used are as follow.

Critical thinking skills


Student engagement
Social media in higher education
Constructivism and SMT
Connectivism and SMT
Component of critical thinking skills

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Use of blogs and wikis in higher education


Use of SMT for reflection in higher education
Use of SMT by educators
Impact of SMT in higher education

Data Analysis
This study analyzed papers with certain dominant themes. Coding was created to dissect
composed data. The research work on data collection continued to advance with topics related to
SMT and interpretation, SMT and analysis, SMT and evaluation, SMT and inference, SMT and
self-regulation, SMT and metacognition, SMT and motivation and creativity.
Coding
The six core critical thinking skills of interpretation, analysis, evaluation, inference,
explanation, and self- regulation (Facoine, 1990) were applied as the main codes for the purpose
of data analysis. Other thematic codes included components of critical thinking skills such as
metacognition, motivation, and creativity (Lai, 2011).
Table 3
The six core critical thinking skills and components of
Critical thinking skills as deductive codes
Codes
Interpretation
Analysis
Evaluation
Inferences
Explanation
Self-regulation
Motivation
Creativity
Meta-cognition
additional codes

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OL - Online learning
Collaboration
Interaction

Interpretation: Ability to decode information and being able to communicate that information to
others (Facoine, 1990).
Analysis: Ability to examine ideas or information and determine the intended meaning from it
(Facoine, 1990).
Evaluation: Ability to assess claims, and the credibility of the statement (Facoine, 1990).
Inferences: Ability to identify required elements in order to draw a reasonable conclusion
(Facoine, 1990).
Explanation: Ability to state the results with clarification and justification (Facoine, 1990).
Self-regulation: Ability to self-examine and self-correction (Facoine, 1990).
Motivation: Motivational factor is considered as an imperative precondition for critical thinking
skill and it can be said that an unmotivated person is less likely to present critical thinking skill
(Lai, 2011).
Creativity: Is considered as an aspect of purposeful thinking. It is believed that some level of
creativity is essential for critical thinking skill and it is associated with creating an intellectual
product (Lai, 2011).
Meta-cognition: Refers to the ones awareness of their own thinking and active monitoring of
their own cognitive process (Lai, 2011).
Online learning: Refers to learning methods that delivers most of the learning content through
the computer connected to the internet. These methods of learning are considered as proficient for

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inculcating critical thinking skills in learners as it has the potential to engage learners in an
interactive and collaborative environment (Maestri, 2015). .
Collaboration: Method in which learners are grouped together for educational purpose to fulfill a
common academic goal. Exchange of ideas in these group setting promotes interest and critical
thinking skills (Gokhale, 1995).
Interaction: Is considered as one of the main attributes of online learning. It is generally defined
as two-way communication between learner to learner, learner to instructor and learner to content
and is done for the purpose of completing a task or for social communication (Wang, Woo &
Zhao, 2009).
Chapter 5 Findings and Discussions
Many of the articles researched indicated a strong connection between the use of
SMT and student interaction, collaboration and analysis. Other articles examined the connection
between online education and critical thinking skills. Again, these articles also observed that
students enrolled in online education demonstrated greater engagement, increased self-regulation
and collaboration compared to traditional teaching methods (Derwin, 2009). These factors can act
as the motivational elements to promote critical thinking process in learners. The types of online
education explored in these studies consisted of asynchronous learning methods such as online
discussions between educator and student & between students to students. Asynchronous
discussion can be classified as SMT since it allowed learners and educators to view each others
comments and reflections on various topics and as a result served the purpose of social media
platform.

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Table 4
Research Articles and Codes
Articles
Fasawang, 2015

Codes
Analysis

Szabo & Schwartz, 2011


Meepian, & Wannapiroon, 2013
Duffy, Peter and Bruns, Axel, 2006
Stafford, Elgueta, & Cameron, 2014
de Andrs Martnez, 2012
Rizal & Steven, 2012
Fasawang, 2015
Szabo & Schwartz, 2011
Tanja E Bosch, 2009
Bsharah, Gasaymeh, & Abdelrahman, 2014
Meepian, & Wannapiroon, 2013
Duffy, Peter and Bruns, Axel, 2006
Melissa Cole, 2008
Stafford, Elgueta, & Cameron, 2014
Younghee Woo, Thomas Reeves, 2007
R. Junco, Heiberger, Loken 2011
de Andrs Martnez, 2012
Dabbagh, & Kitsantas, 2012
Bai, 2009
Jacob, 2009

Interaction

How social media can support critical thinking skills


Yang, & Chou, 2008
Szabo & Schwartz, 2011

23

Inferences

Duffy, Peter and Bruns, Axel, 2006


Stafford, Elgueta, & Cameron, 2014
R. Junco, Heiberger, Loken 2011
Rizal & Steven, 2012

Interpretation

Fasawang, 2015
Tanja E Bosch, 2009
Meepian, & Wannapiroon, 2013
Melissa Cole, 2008
Rizal & Steven, 2012

Collaboration

Fasawang, 2015
Bsharah, Gasaymeh, & Abdelrahman, 2014
Meepian, & Wannapiroon, 2013
Duffy, Peter and Bruns, Axel, 2006
Melissa Cole, 2008
Stafford, Elgueta, & Cameron, 2014
Younghee Woo, Thomas Reeves, 2007
R. Junco, Heiberger, Loken 2010
de Andrs Martnez, 2012
Dabbagh, & Kitsantas, 2012
Duffy, Peter and Bruns, Axel, 2006

Creativity

Dabbagh, & Kitsantas, 2012


Szabo & Schwartz, 2011

Evaluation

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Stafford, Elgueta, & Cameron, 2014


de Andrs Martnez, 2012
Fasawang, 2015

Meta-coginition

Szabo & Schwartz, 2011


Duffy, Peter and Bruns, Axel, 2006
Younghee Woo, Thomas Reeves, 2007
Bai, 2009
Rizal & Steven, 2012

Motivation

Fasawang, 2015
Tanja E Bosch, 2009
R. Junco, Heiberger, Loken 2010
de Andrs Martnez, 2012

Self-regulation

Dabbagh, & Kitsantas, 2012


Rizal & Steven, 2012

OL

Fasawang, 2015
Szabo & Schwartz, 2011
Tanja E Bosch, 2009
Bsharah, Gasaymeh, & Abdelrahman, 2014
Meepian, & Wannapiroon, 2013
Duffy, Peter and Bruns, Axel, 2006
Melissa Cole, 2008
Stafford, Elgueta, & Cameron, 2014
Younghee Woo, Thomas Reeves, 2007
Bai, 2009

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The above table reveals how most of the research applied Facoines core critical thinking
skills and other components of thinking skills into their research work and observed that these
skills were evident in SMT settings. In analyzing data with these deductive codes there were
several common theme that emerged.
Interaction and collaboration
The majority of articles indicated that use of SMT promotes interaction and collaboration
among learners. Many articles argued that the face-to-face setting had limited interaction and
collaboration, due to lack of time and, only limited number of student participates in the face-toface interaction. On the other hand, SMT can act as better communication platform since all types
of learners are able to interact and collaborate equally (Szabo & Schwartz 2011, Yang & Chou,
2008, Derwin 2009). Online interaction can fulfill diverse range of functions in the learning
process as it supports active learning, effective facilitation of information and enables learner to
input in their own learning which can lead to critical thinking process (Younghee Woo, Thomas
Reeves, 2007).
These online interactions between learner-to-learner and learner-to-educators often
enriched learners analysis and interpretation proficiency.
Interpretation and analysis
Use of SMT empowered learners with the ability to acquire information from
various sources and enabled them to reflect on this information with their own experiences and
perspectives. Some SMT platforms such as wikis allow users to track the history and source of
information. Learners are able to analyze the gathered information and then, they can draw their
own conclusion on what information to use. SMT also provides an opportunity for learner to
communicate this information to others (Duffy, Peter and Bruns, Axel, 2006).

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Motivation, creativity, and self-regulation.


Researchers also noted greater student engagement due to SMT and this created a
motivational factor in learners. SMT such as blogs and wiki provide an opportunity for learners to
show their creativity as they get a chance to easily create their own content in the form of a web
page and do not need additional skills to design a web page. It was also observed that participating
on SMT improved learners creative writing ability over the time (Stafford, Elgueta, & Cameron,
2014).
Even though only a few articles addressed a link between the use of SMT and selfregulation & creativity, it can be argued that learners that are using online learning platforms such
as SMT are observed to be self-regulating and independent. Since learners are required to actively
engage themselves in the learning process and are expected to be task-oriented and independent
compared to face to face learning and in class discussions where educators can persuade them into
a discussions and active participation process (Derwin, 2009).
Metacognition and the instructional methods used in SMT.
While it was apparent that SMT supports interaction, many researchers also emphasized
the importance of how these interactions must be meaningful in order to generate metacognition
skills. A number of articles mentioned that educators must monitor these online discussions to
entice critical thinking skill in learners (Yang, & Chou, 2008, Szabo & Schwartz, 2011). Yang
further suggests that critical thinking skills can be instilled in learners hence, it is important to
monitor what types of instructional methods are used in online learning. In a study conducted by
Szabo & Schwartz (2011) the instructors used prompts to initiate discussion that can enhance
critical thinking. They monitored online discussions and gave feedback mostly in the beginning of

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the session. These online discussions consisted of blackboard discussion boards that mimic the
same concept as social media platforms such as Facebook and wikis discussions boards. As the
semester progressed the students discussion expanded from simple reports to detailed reflection
and critical thoughts. The instructor slowly decreased the amount of prompts and allowed learners
to collaborate independently yet monitored the discussions at the same time.
The results of this study were interestingly positive and a significant level of improvement
was noted in learners critical thinking skills.
Types of SMT in online learning and explanation and inferencing skills.
Some types of social media were noted to be more popular than others. Most of the studies
had used Facebook, Twitter, wikis and blogs as SMT platforms for their research.
A number of studies reported that use of Facebook proved to be an effective tool to enhance
components of critical thinking skills such as interaction, collaboration and interpretation
(Faswang 2015, Tanja E Bosch 2009, Rizal & Steven 2012). Many learners mentioned that, since
they were already an active user of Facebook, it was easier for them to check class related
materials and felt that it was useful to engage in interaction with others at the same time (Bosch,
2009).
Blogs and wikis were also considered as popular sites. It was observed that blogs offered
an opportunity for ongoing expression of opinions, interaction of personal ideas and perspectives.
Wikis provided a task-oriented collaborative platform. Users were able to add and edit content and
were able to gather interlinking knowledge (Duffy, Peter and Bruns, Axel, 2006).
Through online interaction with peers and educators learners can reflect and explain their
perspective to others and can construct new knowledge by gathering information through others
opinions and their own prior experiences. This ability to interact, analyze and interpret enables

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28

learners to think critically. This also indicates that use of these platforms in higher education can
enhance students explanation and inferencing skills based on the principals of Social
Constructivism theory where knowledge is acquired by interacting with other learners &
educators and critical thinking is formed via social collaboration.
There are many types of SMT platforms used today for learners to interact and collaborate
with others. Due to various technological tools available via SMT it has become easy to gather
information with the tip of your fingertips and this supports the connectivisim theory where
knowledge is acquired by various technologies and can be distributed within ones network.
Information can be accessed from anywhere, and it does not always come from another person but
also from other technologies.
The studies used in this research applied various methods to measure critical thinking skill
such as Blooms taxonomy (Fasawang, 2015), Fishers 9 critical thinking indicators (Rizal &
Steven, 2012) and so forth.
The finding of this research suggests that higher education educators are beginning to
incorporate SMT via online discussions using popular social media platforms such as Facebook,
wikis and blogs into their instructions. While there was no clear indication on any particular SMT
to support critical thinking skills it was evident that the SMT that involved learners in interaction
and inferencing skills such as discussion forums and reflection blogs enhanced their critical
thinking abilities.
Most of the findings from previous research had discussed the relationship between critical
thinking skills and online learning and or online discussions. Only limited number of studies
discussed a direct connection between SMT and critical thinking skills. Other limitations of this
study could be the model of Facoins six critical thinking skills used as the framework. Using

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29

additional learning model such as blooms taxonomy for coding purposes would have enhanced the
findings of this research as it discusses the topics of creating, evaluating, analyzing, applying,
understanding and remembering (Sosniak, 1994).

Chapter 6 Conclusion
Major findings from this research
The result of this research suggests that SMT can promote many elements of critical
thinking skill such as interaction, collaboration, inferencing, analysis and meta-cognition. It
promotes motivation in learners and can provide an engaging and interactive learning
environment. It also allows learners to collaborate with other learners & educators and aids in
acquiring knowledge from various SMT.
The literature review section of this study had noted how some educators still see use of
SMT as distraction however, the result of this studies contradicts this opinion and suggests that
SMT can create greater engagement in learners.
Furthermore, SMT platforms such as Facebook, blogs, wiki are popular among educators
in higher educationand it was observed that educators are just beginning to use these tools in their
teaching and learning practices.
Future recommendation.
It was interesting to observe that evaluation and self-regulation were only observed in a
few studies. This indicates an implication for future research in this area. Future studies should be
conducted to see if SMT can promote critical thinking components such as evaluation and selfregulation and whether it will enhance the critical thinking skill abilities in learners.

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Future researchers can build upon the existing studies and can look into see how SMT can
be part of higher education curriculum to promote critical thinking skills.
Future research should also focus on what instructional methods can be more effective
with the use of SMT to enhance core critical thinking skills in learners. Moreover, it should also
indicate how educators can utilize various strategies to engage learners in an SMT environment
that can further infuse critical thinking skill.

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