‘A language we understand’: Students’ perceptions of emojis, memes and gifs in higher education teaching.


  • Beatrice Hayes Dr
  • Sania Fatima


Emojis, memes and gifs are visual representations of emotions, concepts and pop culture references, and are being increasingly used within higher education teaching. Although positive perceptions have been found when using these with children, an understanding of higher education students’ perceptions around lecturer’s emoji, meme and gif use remains unknown. To explore this, we thematically analysed ten one-to-one semi-structured interviews conducted with higher education university students (Mage= 20.6 years, SD= 1.06; 8 female) based at UK institutions. Key themes of communication and learner experience arose from the data. Students identified emojis, memes and gifs as positive in fostering personability of the lecturer, as well as aiding attention and understanding of learning content. Although, students did recognise that over-disclosure and distraction were negative outcomes of using emojis, memes and gifs. These findings are important in adding to the pedagogical debate around the use of visual stimuli and digital communication within higher education teaching.  


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How to Cite

Hayes, B., & Fatima, S. (2024). ‘A language we understand’: Students’ perceptions of emojis, memes and gifs in higher education teaching. Student Engagement in Higher Education Journal, 5(3), 154–177. Retrieved from https://sehej.raise-network.com/raise/article/view/1187