Date of Award

Spring 3-9-2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

PhD Higher Education Leadership, Management, Policy

Department

Education Leadership, Management and Policy

Advisor

Robert Kelchen, Ph.D

Committee Member

Rong Chen, Ph.D

Committee Member

Martin Finkelstein, Ph.D

Keywords

Higher education, social media, social media policy, comparative analysis, policy analysis, Web 2.0

Abstract

Abstract

The creativity, collaboration, and advanced communication afforded by the use of social media also opens privacy and safety concerns for potential users inside and outside the realm of higher education. As the promise of the positives afforded by weaving social media into the fabric of higher education has been realized, so too have concerns over how this “social network” is governed and managed at colleges and universities. News stories, predominately negative in nature, have highlighted the unprofessional conduct of college and university employees and the issues surrounding the implementation of social media policies at institutions of higher education. Consequently, the approach to studying social media (SM) and social media policy (SMP) is not refined to the point where data can be leveraged to inform clear and well supported decision making.

This quantitative study explored the gaps in the literature on SM and SMP in higher education as it relates to the experiences of faculty, administration, and staff. By investigating the degree to which faculty, administration, and staff use SM, the existence and details of SMPs, and perceptions related to SMPs, data supported approaches could offer further insight into how guidelines could be customized to suit specific user needs. The study employed a comparative analysis approach through distribution of an electronic survey to a target population consisting of faculty, administration, and staff members across 48 degree granting institutions in the state of New Jersey. Questions guiding the research were: 1) What are the behaviors, experiences, and perceptions of faculty, administration, and staff in regard to social media’s usage and social media policy at institutions of higher education in the state of New Jersey? Do similarities and/or differences exist between faculty, administration, and staff who use/do not use SM and whose home institution has/does not have a SMP in place?, 2) How do the personal and professional behaviors of faculty, administration, and staff differ, if at all, on social media at institutions of higher education in the State of New Jersey?, and 3) How, if at all, do SM and SMP behaviors and perceptions differ by gender, age, institutional type and program/department at institutions of higher education in the state of New Jersey?

Key findings that could have significant implications in higher education were 1) the frequency of SM usage 2) lack of SMP “buy in” and 3) SM boundaries and SMP “constraint”. Social media usage across institutional roles and age groups in higher education settings in the study’s response sample was shown to be on an upward trajectory, while the same respondents indicated more often than not they were not sure if a SMP existed at their institution. If a policy was perceived to exist, participants noted it may not clearly define how personal and professional SM behaviors differ or provide the necessary amount of outreach and support to this diverse group of stakeholders at various levels of the SMP making process.

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