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Social Media: A Tool to Increase College Students Engagement and Success


Academic year: 2021

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Social Media: A Tool to

Increase College Students’

Engagement and Success

Heather Haeger, Indiana University-Bloomington Cecilia Rios-Aguilar, Claremont Graduate University Allison BrckaLorenz, Indiana University-Bloomington

Regina Deil-Amen, University of Arizona

Presented at the Association for Institutional Research Forum



Social media use in college

Methodological approaches



The Value of Social Media among College Leaders How often do you use social media/social

networking sites for professional purposes?

How often do you use social media/social

networking sites for personal purposes?

What is the value of social media?

A. Deliver information (campus

announcements, deadlines, events, etc.) B. Marketing

C. Improve Students’ Outcomes D. Build Campus Community


Did you know?

Social media is characterized by two-way

engagement and user-generated content.

Social media use is near-universal in the U.S.

o Over 90% of those under 30 years of age

o Over 90% of four-year college and university students

o 66% of those under 50 years of age

Despite this we know little about the relevance

of social media interactions for:

o Engagement, integration, belonging, college identity, or college


Social media is an attractive and

cost-effective way to connect students to each other and to faculty and staff

Need to understand if and how students are

using social media to connect to the campus community

o What is the effect of these interactions?



To present different methodological options

to exploring social media use on college campuses

To present findings on the social media use

of students at 2-yr and 4-yr colleges


Social Media use is linked to increased

“engagement” in college

o When used to communicate with other students,

faculty, and staff, students’ level of engagement is higher (CCSSE, 2009)

o Increased “friending” and social media

interactions leads to college social capital

accumulation (Ellison et al., 2011; Mayer & Puller, 2008; Ellison, Wohn, Khan, & Fewins-Bliss, 2012)

Facebook offers opportunities for extracurricular activities,

peer group interactions, and faculty-staff interactions. (Junco, 2011)

Cross-race relationship building (Wimmer & Lewis, 2010) Social Well-being (Burke, Marlow & Lento, 2010)


Need to also explore

o Social media use in community colleges

o The relationship between social media and academic

activities and outcomes

Higher engagement is related to higher GPA,

retention, and persistence to degree (Tinto,

1993/97/00; Astin, 1984; Kuh, 2001; Thomas, 2000).

Can social media provide a virtual space for students

to build connection and integrate into a college campus community?


4-Year Colleges

Social Media Use and Student

Engagement in College


National Survey of Student Engagement


o 42 four-year colleges and universities o 19,000 first-year and senior students

Additional questions


Student who often use SM

31% 39% 18% 19% 11% 45% 39% 45% 66% 81% 76% 39% 26% 28% 16% 13% 9% 31% 25% 24% 54% 73% 70% 31%

Plan study groups or tutoring… Complete homework or class…

Learn about internships Faculty or advisors about courses

Faculty or advisors non-course-… Learn about activities Learn about clubs and… Meet new people at college Connect to friends at college Connect to friends not it college

Connect to family Used social media during class



Interactions with College Professionals on SM

Half of the students who interacted with faculty or advisors through social media had two-way communications with them

When networking with staff from career services, libraries, financial aid, or

residence life, over two-thirds of students merely read information posted by the campus units

11% 7% 8% 6% 6% 9% 18% 6% 11% 6% 3% 3% 3% 5% 14% 5% 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% Faculty Academic advisors Career services staff Librarians Financial aid staff Housing/Residence Life staff Student Activities advisors On-campus employers

Only read information they distribute using social


Interacted with them using social networking


Results: 4-year Institutions

The relationship between engagement and social media use Academic Peer Interaction Faculty Socializing on Campus Socializing Off Campus During Class (non related) Active & Collaborative Learning FY +++ + ++ SR ++ + ++ + - Supportive Campus Environment FY ++ +++ - SR ++ +++ - Enriching Ed Experiences FY ++ + ++ SR ++ +++ + Student Faculty Interaction FY + +++ ++ SR + ++ +++ + Gains-Personal and social FY ++ ++ +++ - SR + + +++ - Gains-Practical Skills FY ++ +++ + - SR + ++ + - Deep Learning FY ++ + +++ ++ - SR + ++ ++ - - Academic Challenge FY ++ ++ + - SR ++ + ++ - -


Results: 4-year Institutions

On the down side, over two-thirds of students

used social media at least sometimes during class, and approximately a third frequently did so

o 39% first-year o 31% seniors

Students who spent more time on social media

during class:

o Perceived their campus environment to be less


o Reported lower gains


Summary of Results

Students most often use social media to connect to

o Family

o Friends from home

o Making new friends at school o Communicating with peers

Students have more active communication with

o Faculty o Advisors

More passive communication with

o Career services o Libraries

o Financial aid o Residence life


Summary of Results

Social media can be a positive force in

students’ educational experiences

o Increased use of social media to connect to friends on

campus, family and institutional agents is related to increased engagement and educational outcomes

Social media can be a distraction for over a

third of students

o Increased use of social media during class (non-class related)

is negatively associated with sense of belonging and grades The connections students made and the information

they received through social networking were positively associated with other forms of


Community Colleges

Getting Connected: Harnessing

the Power of Social Media to

Enhance Community College

Students’ Success


Getting Connected: Harnessing the

Power of Social Media to Enhance

Community College Students’ Success

Goal of the Project: This longitudinal research project examines if and how commuter-based community colleges attempt to use social media technology as a mechanism to increase students’ connection to and success in college.

Key Players: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (funders); The League for the Innovation in the Community College (partner); Inigral

(software/app developer); and the University of Arizona and Claremont Graduate University (researchers)

Community Colleges Selected: 9 community colleges located in 8 states (AK, AZ, CA, WY, TX, WI, NY, OH)


Research Questions: Community College

How does connection to and

integration/engagement in college happen for community college students in on-line environment?

What particular forms of community building

can be seen in the on-line exchanges of students and institutional agents?

How are these on-line exchanges related to


The Schools App

1. Make Friends 2. Write on the “college’s wall” 3. Join communities 4. Create events


Methodology: Mixed Methods

o Descriptive Statistics and Regression Analyses

Using social media site (app data)

Using institutional data

o Social network analysis

Using social media site (app data)

o Content analysis of posts

Using social media site data

o Site visits / Interviews

30-40 interviews and two or three focus groups at each college (students drew maps too)

o Longitudinal outcomes analysis


Descriptive Results

Who is Using the Schools App?

As of August 2012, there were approximately 19,000 community college students who joined the virtual community across all eight colleges.

We learned that, on average, 16% of students who

were invited to join the Schools App actually became members of the on-line community.


Descriptive Results

How are community college


Descriptive Results

How are community college


How do students use the community college social media

space? They engage in “integrative community building” on-line communities rich in socio-academic, financial, and procedurally-relevant social capital exchanges Students are pro-actively networking to construct a community

of support and

information (to navigate the institution and acquire additional

college-going knowledge).


Applications to Your Campus

Strengths and weakness of both

approaches for studying social

media use on campus

Ideas to keep in mind for your


Self-reported survey data

o Pros:

Large sample size

Differences across campuses and student


Connect data to other measures of engagement in


Value in students perceptions of their experiences

even if it’s a less precise measure.


Self-reported survey data

o Cons:

Broad measure of student’s perceptions as

opposed to more detailed options

More difficulty to evaluate the scope and quality of

these interactions


Creating survey measures of social media use:

o Ask about the amount of time students spend on SM? (problems

with that)

o Ask about how often students do use social media?

o Need to ask about specific interactions not just social media use

in general

Need to also measure what is happening in those

interactions, not just the frequency of contact

o Directionality of communication

o Do students communicate at all, do they communicate

passively (just read information), or do they actively

communicate (exchange information in a back-and-forth interaction)?


Methods: Mixed Methods

Pros and cons



What questions about social media

use on your campus would you like

to explore and answer?

Which investigation method might

help you to answer particular

questions you have about social

media use on your campus?

How might our results be similar or

different from results on your



Contact Information

Heather Haeger: hahaeger@indiana.edu

Cecilia Rios-Aguilar: cecilia.rios-aguilar@cgu.eduAllison BrckaLorenz: abrckalo@indiana.edu


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