This graph summarizes the main findings of the only two studies of social media and college student engagement. Both found relationships between time spent on social media and student engagement as described by Astin (1984) and measured through single survey items. Heiberger and Harper (2008) conducted a study of 377 undergraduate students at a Midwestern institution, while the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI, 2007) used the Your First College Year (YFCY) survey to collect data from over 31,000 students at 114 colleges and universities. Both the Heiberger and Harper (2008) and HERI (2007) studies found a positive correlation between social networking website use and college student engagement. For instance, a higher percentage of high users of social networking websites participated in and spent more time in campus organizations than low users. Additionally, more of the high users reported that they interacted daily (in the real world) with close friends and felt strong connections to them (HERI, 2007).
“Low Users” for the Heiberger & Harper study was quantified as spending less than 1 hour/day on Facebook and “High Users” spent greater than 1 hour/day while “Low Users” for the HERI study was quantified as spending less than 1 hour/week on social media (FB, Myspace) and “High Users” spent greater than 6 hours/week.
Astin, A. (1984). Student involvement: A developmental theory for higher education. Journal of College Student Personnel, 25(4), 297-308.
Heiberger, G., & Harper, R. (2008). Have you Facebooked Astin lately? Using technology to increase student involvement. In Junco, R., & Timm, D. M., eds. Using emerging technologies to enhance student engagement. New Directions for Student Services Issue #124. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, pp. 19-35.
Higher Education Research Institute (2007). College freshmen and online social networking sites.
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