Cross-Cultural Digital Information-Seeking Experiences

The Case of Saudi Arabian Female International Students

Keywords: digital shift, information-seeking behavior, Saudi female international students

Abstract

The number of Saudi female international students (SFISs) pursuing higher degrees in Western countries has increased dramatically. Many are faced with unusual challenges, especially acting without a male’s permission, interacting with males, and using an open, free Internet. This article proposes that SFISs experience a “digital shift” whereby their cultural, educational, and digital backgrounds impact their information-seeking behavior in Australia. The study used a qualitative interpretivist methodology, interviewing a diverse group of SFISs studying in Australia, to better understand this impact on their everyday information needs and use of information sources. Findings indicate that SFISs’ imperfect online search skills, exacerbated by English language deficiency, increase their challenges. Recommendations for supporting SFISs are offered for institutions and service providers.

Downloads

Download data is not yet available.

Metrics

Metrics Loading ...

Author Biographies

Haifa Binsahl, University of Melbourne, Australia

HAIFA BINSAHL, PhD, was awarded her doctorate in July 2018 from the University of Melbourne, Australia. She is a Saudi female student sponsored by the King Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz Scholarship Program. Her major interests are computing and information systems, information-seeking behavior, and cross-cultural issues.

Shanton Chang, University of Melbourne, Australia

SHANTON CHANG, PhD, is Associate Professor in the School of Computing and Information Systems, University of Melbourne. His interests include health information-seeking behavior, international education, technology in education, IT security, and organizational culture.

Rachelle Bosua, Open University, The Netherlands

RACHELLE BOSUA, PhD, is a researcher and writer at the Faculty of Management, Science, and Technology at the Open University of the Netherlands. Interests include knowledge management, sharing, and strategy, and social media and networks. 

References

Alanazy, M. (2013). Participation in online and face-to-face discussions: perceptions of female Saudi students in the United States [Unpublish doctoral dissertation]. University of Northern Colorado, Greely.

Albugami, S., & Ahmed, V. (2016, January 24). Effects of culture and religion on the use of ICT in the Saudi education system [Presentation]. Institute of Research Engineers and Scientists 25th International Conference, Istanbul, Turkey.

Alhazmi, A., & Nyland, B. (2011). Saudi international students in Australia and intercultural engagement: A study of transitioning from a gender segregated culture to a mixed gender environment. In Proceedings of the ISANA International Education Association Inc. (pp. 1-11). http://isana.proceedings.com.au/docs/2010/ doctoral_paper_%20 alhazmi.pdf

Alhazmi, A., & Nyland, B. (2013). The Saudi Arabian international student experience: From a gender-segregated society to studying in a mixed-gender environment. Journal of Comparative and International Education, 43(3), 346–365.

Al-Kahtani, N. K. M., Ryan, J. J. C. H., & Jefferson, T. I. (2006). How Saudi female faculty perceive internet technology usage and potential. Information, Knowledge, Systems Management, 5(4), 227–243.

Almakrami, H. (2015). Online self-disclosure across cultures: A study of Facebook use in Saudi Arabia and Australia [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. Queensland University of Technology, Australia.

Al-Munajjed, M. (1997). Women in Saudi Arabia today. St. Martin’s Press.

Al-Qahtani, M. (2015). Fluid cultures and identifications: The intercultural communication experiences of Saudi international students in the UK [Doctoral dissertation] Durham University, United Kingdom.

Alqarni, I. (2011). Middle East students studying in Australia: The Saudi Arabian students’ example. Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission. https://www.scribd.com/document/249730968/Middle-East-students-Study-in-Australia.

Alqefari, S. (2015). Difficulties of Saudia Arabian female students studying English abroad. Arab World English Journal, 6(4), 231–244. http://www.academia.edu/20062582/Difficulties_of_Saudi_Arabian_Female_Students_Studying_English_Abroad

Alruwaili, T. O. (2017). Self-identity and community through social media: The experience of Saudi female international college students in the United States [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. University of Northern Colorado, USA.

Al-Saggaf, Y. (2016). An exploratory study of attitudes towards privacy in social media and the threat of blackmail: The views of a group of Saudi women. The Electronic Journal of Information Systems in Developing Countries (EJISDC), 75(7), 1–16.

Al-Saggaf, Y., & Begg, M. M. (2004). Online communities versus offline communities in the Arab/Muslim world. Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, 2(1), 41–54.

Al-Saggaf, Y., Himma, K. E., & Kharabsheh, R. (2008). Political online communities in Saudi Arabia: The major players. Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, 6(2), 127–140.

Al-Saif, M. (2013, February 4). Gender segregation in higher education. Arab News. www.arabnews.com/gender-segregation-higher-education

Alsuwaida, N. (2016). Women’s education in Saudi Arabia. Journal of International Education Research 12(4), 111–118.

Altamimi, A. M. (2014). Challenges experienced by Saudi female students transitioning through Canadian pre-academic ESL [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. Mount Saint Vincent University, Canada.

Alwedinani, J (2016). Gender and subject choice in higher education in Saudi Arabia [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. University of York, United Kingdom.

Al-Zahrani, A. (2010). Women’s sexual health care in Saudi Arabia: A focused ethnographic study [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. University of Sheffield, United Kingdom.

Alzougool, B., Chang, S., Gomes, C. & Berry, M. (2013). Finding their way around: International students’ use of information sources. Journal of Advanced Management Science, 1(1), 43–49. doi:10.12720/joams.1.1.43-49.

Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. (2020). Saudi Arabia country brief. Retrieved October 8, 2020, from http://dfat.gov.au/geo/saudi-arabia/pages/saudi-arabia-country-brief.aspx

Binsahl, H., & Chang, S. (2012). International Saudi female students in Australia and social networking sites: What are the motivations and barriers to communication [Paper presentation]. 23rd International Student Advisers Network of Australia’s International Academy Association (ISANA) Conference, Auckland, New Zealand.

Binsahl, H., Chang, S., & Bosua, R. (2015). Exploring the factors that impact on Saudi female international students’ use of social technologies as an information source. PACIS 2015 Proceedings. Article 201.

Chang, S., & Gomes, C. (2017). Digital journeys: A perspective on understanding the digital experiences of international students. Journal of International Students, 7(2), 347–366.

Chang, S., Alzougool, B., Berry, M., Gomes, C., Smith, S. & Reeders, D. (2012). International students in the digital age: Do you know where your students go to for information? Proceedings of the Australian International Education Conference 2012, 1–11.

Corbin, J., & Strauss, A. (2008). Basics of qualitative research: Techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory (3th ed.). SAGE.

Council of Australian Governments. (2010). International students strategy for Australia 2010–2014. http://apo.org.au/system/files/23118/apo-nid23118-25546.pdf

Creswell, J. W. (2007). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five approaches (3rd ed.). SAGE.

Danielewicz-Betz, A. (2013). Cyberspace othering and marginalization in the context of Saudi Arabian culture: A socio-pragmatic perspective. Lodz Papers in Pragmatics, 9(2), 275–299.

Denzin, N., & Lincoln, Y. (2017). The SAGE handbook of qualitative research (5th ed.). SAGE.

Dharamsi, S., & Charles, G. (2011). Ethnography: Traditional and criticalist conceptions of a qualitative research method. Canadian Family Physician, 57(3), 378–379.

Fox News. (2013). Saudi king grants women seats on advisory council for first time. http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/01/11/saudi-king-grants-women-seats-on-advisory-council-for-1st-time.html?test=latestnews#ixzz2HhcBjotw

Freedom House. (2016). Freedom in the world: Saudi Arabia. Annual Reports. https://www.refworld.org/publisher/FREEHOU.html

Gray, K., Chang, S., & Kennedy, G. (2010). Use of social web technologies by international and domestic undergraduate students: Implications for internationalising learning and teaching in Australian universities. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 19 (1), 31–46. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14759390903579208

Gu, Q., Schweisfurth, M., & Day, C. (2010). Learning and growing in a “foreign” context: Intercultural experiences of international students. A Journal of Comparative and International Education, 40(1), 7–23.

Guba, E. G., & Lincoln, Y. S. (1994). Competing paradigms in qualitative research. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of qualitative research (pp. 105–117). SAGE.

Hall, T. R. (2013). Saudi male perceptions of study in the United States: An analysis of King Abdullah Scholarship Program participants [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green.

Hamdan, A. (2005). Women and education in Saudi Arabia: Challenges and achievements. International Education Journal, 6(1), 42-64.

Hamid, S. (2013). The use of online social networking (OSN) for higher education [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. University of Melbourne, Australia.

Harden, G., & Al Beayeyz, A. (2012). A comparative analysis of social networking site use in two distinct cultures: Evaluating the IT-culture conflict. Global Media Journal. http://www.globalmediajournal.com/open-access/a-comparative-analysis-of-social-networking-site-use-in-two-distinct-cultures-evaluating-the-itculture-conflict.php?aid=35900

Hofstede, G. (1991). Cultures and organizations: Software of the mind. McGraw-Hill.

Hofstede Insights. (2020). Compare countries. Retrieved Oct 8, 2020. (https://www.hofstede-insights.com/product/compare-countries/). In the public domain.

Hughes, H. (2013). International students using online information resources to learn: Complex experience and learning needs. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 7(1), 126–146.

Human Rights Watch. (2016). Boxed in: Women and Saudi Arabia’s male guadianship system. www.hrw.org/report/2016/07/16/boxed/women-and-saudi-arabias-male-guardianship-system

Jamjoom, M. (2013). Saudi Arabia may block Skype, Viber, WhatsApp, others. CNN. http://edition.cnn.com/2013/03/31/world/meast/saudi-arabia-may-block-apps

Jankowski, N. W., & Wester, F. (1991). The qualitative tradition in social science inquiry: Contributions to mass communication research. In K.B. Jensen & N. W. Jankowski (Eds), A handbook of qualitative methodologies for mass communication research. Routledge.

Jones, S., & Madden, M. (2002). The internet goes to college: How students are living in the future with today’s technology. Pew Internet and American Life Project. http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED472669.pdf

Kant, S. (2014). The distinction and relationship between ontology and epistemology: Does it matter? Politikon: IAPSS Political Science Journal, 24(3), 68–85.

Lefdahl-Davis, E. M., & Perrone-McGovern, K. M. (2015). The cultural adjustment of Saudi women international students: A qualitative examination. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 46(3), 1–29. doi:10.1177/0022022114566680

Lenhart, A., Simon, M., & Graziano, M. (2001). The internet and education: Findings of the PEW internet and American life project. Pew Research Center. http://www.pewinternet.org/2001/09/01/the-internet-and-education/

Liao, Y., Finn, M., & Lu, J. (2007). Information-seeking behavior of international graduate students vs. American graduate students: A user study at Virginia Tech 2005. College & Research Libraries, 68(1), 5–25.

Mehra, B., & Bilal, D. (2007). International students’ perceptions of their information seeking strategies. In Proceedings of the Annual Conference of CAIS/Actes du Congrès Annuel de l'ACSI. doi:10.29173/cais233

Miles, M. B., & Huberman, A. M. (1994). Qualitative data analysis: An expanded sourcebook. SAGE.

Neri, F., & Ville, S. (2008). Social capital renewal and the academic performance of international students in Australia. The Journal of Socio-Economics, 37(4), 1515–1538.

Oshan, M. (2007). Saudi women and the internet: Gender and culture issues [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. Loughborough University, United Kingdom. https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/2134/7906

Peräkylä A. (2016). Validity in qualitative research. In D. Silverman (Ed.). Qualitative research (4th ed., pp. 413–428). SAGE.

Raghavan, S. (2017, May 12). Saudi women need permission from male guardians for life choices. Will new reforms help end this? The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/05/12/saudi-women-need-permission-from-male-guardians-for-life-choices-will-new-reforms-help-end-this/?utm_term=.5cc059527af1

Reuters. (2017, September 21). Saudi lifting ban on Skype, Whatsapp calls, but will monitor them. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-saudi-telecoms-ban/saudi-lifting-ban-on-skype-whatsapp-calls-but-will-monitor-them-idUSKCN1BW12L

Sandekian, R. E., Weddington, M., Birnbaum, M., & Keen, J. K. (2015). A narrative inquiry into academic experiences of female Saudi graduate students at a comprehensive doctoral university. Journal of Studies in International Education, 19(4), 360–378. doi:10.1177/1028315315574100

Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission to the United States. (2010). Advancement of Saudi women. http://www.sacm.org/ArabicSACM/pdf/women_ front_web.pdf

Savolainen, R. (1995). Everyday life information seeking: Approaching information seeking in the context of “way of life.” Library & Information Science Research, 17(3), 259–294.

Shepherd, G., & Rane, H. (2012). Experiencing Australia: Arab students’ perspectives and perceptions informing enhancement strategies. In Proceedings of the ISANA International Education Conference. http://isana.proceedings.com.au/docs/2012/isana2012Final00024.pdf

Sika, H. (2017). Censorship, social media and Saudi Arabia [Video]. Al Jazeera. www.aljazeera.com/programmes/insidestory/2017/09/censorship-social-media-saudi-arabia-170919212901082.html

Sin, S. C. J. (2015). Demographic differences in international students’ information source uses and everyday information seeking challenges. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 41, 466–474.

Sin, S. C. J., & Kim, K. S. (2013). International students’ everyday life information seeking: The informational value of social networking sites. Library & Information Science Research, 35(2), 107–116. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.lisr.2012.11.006

Sin, S. C. J., Kim, K. S., Yang, J., Park, J. A., & Laugheed, Z. T. (2011). International students' acculturation information seeking: Personality, information needs and uses. Proceedings of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 48(1), 1–4.

UNESCO. (2014). Global flow of tertiary-level students. http://www.uis.unesco.org/Education/Pages/international-student-flow-viz.aspx

University World News. (2009, September). Global: What defines an international student? http://www.universityworldnews.com/article.php?story=20090917182725104

Vie, S. (2008). Digital divide 2.0: “Generation M” and online social networking sites in the composition classroom. Computers and Composition, 25(1), 9–23.

WEF. (2020). Global gender gap report. http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GGGR_2020.pdf/

Yin, R. (2015). Qualitative research from start to finish (2nd ed.). Guilford.

Published
2020-11-15
How to Cite
Binsahl, H., Chang, S., & Bosua, R. (2020). Cross-Cultural Digital Information-Seeking Experiences. Journal of International Students, 10(4), 872-891. https://doi.org/10.32674/jis.v10i3.1573
Section
Research Articles

Most read articles by the same author(s)