Social Networking for Engagement and Retention
With all the recent talk about using social networking to increase student engagement on college campuses, schools are scrambling to find data to support spending time, money, and effort on implementing new strategies that involve tools such as Facebook and Twitter.
Social Media Engagement Research
Research has always shown that with increased engagement, there is increased persistence in higher education. The more connected a student feels to their community, the more likely they are to stick around and – hopefully – graduate.
There are a few major research projects every year, namely the Community College Survey of Student Engagement, the National Survey of Student Engagement, and Noel-Levitz’s Student Retention Practices and Strategies Report, that reflect habits and attitudes, but where are the studies that show the results of implementing social-networking based strategies?
At this point, we’ve just begun to scratch the surface of the possibilities that these tools offer, in terms of increasing engagement, and here are some of the results we’ve found with the Schools App.
Social Media and Student Retention Results
After working with some partner colleges we’ve been able to compare student engagement within their private Facebook community with data from their student information systems. These results have been compiled in a download you can find here.
Dr. Rey Junco has been conducting his own research for quite some time within higher education. In March 2009, he and Greg Heiberger presented ‘You can use Facebook for that? Research-supported strategies to engage your students‘, which bridges current information about students’ widespread use of Facebook with Alexander Astin’s highly-regarded Theory of Involvement and Vincent Tinto’s Model of Departure.
The slideshow highlights data that suggests increased student engagement based on social networking activity and includes suggestions for how to use Facebook in Higher Ed.
Junco also teamed up with co-editor Dianne Timm this year to release a report entitled Using Emerging Technologies to Enhance Student Engagement: New Directions for Student Services, number 124. Each of the seven chapters was written by different experts and all of them focus on student affairs using technology to enhance student learning, build community, facilitate communication, and increase student engagement.
To give you an idea of how relevant and powerful the report is, here are a few of the chapter titles:
- Have You Facebooked Astin Lately? Using Technology to Increase Student Involvement (by Greg Heiberger, Ruth Harper)
- Students’ Technology Use and the Impacts on Well-Being (by Shelia R. Cotten)
- Privacy and Social Networking Sites (Dianne M. Timm, Carolyn J. Duven)
- Technology for Institutional Enrollment, Communication, and Student Success (Grace Salas, Julie S. Alexander)
Although many schools are using Facebook groups and pages to engage students currently, it is difficult for administrators to be able to track students in a meaningful way. University branded/owned private social networks may be the key to solving this gap between “social media engagement” and “student engagement on campus.”
Have you been able to utilize social media data to track meaningful student outcomes? Share your successes or frustrations below!