Students Perception Towards Social Networking Sites

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Students’ perceptions, experiences and beliefs about Facebook in subjects at an Australian University
Lynda Andrews
School of AMPR, Queensland University of Technology
l.andrews@qut.edu.au

and
Judy Drennan
School of AMPR, Queensland University of Technology
j.drennan@qut.edu.au
Abstract
This paper reports on students’ perceptions, experiences and beliefs about the voluntary use of Facebook in Advertising, Law, Nursing and Creative Industries’ subjects at an Australian University. The researchers conducted in-depth interviews with students and the transcriptions were analysed using the constant comparison method. This resulted in a number of emergent themes, of which six are explored in this paper. The findings suggest that students are quite divergent in their responses to academics using Facebook in their subjects. They do not always see its relevance to the subject and are somewhat ambivalent about how it facilitates peer-to-peer relationships or a better relationship with the lecturer. The study also identifies themes relating to cynicism and intrusion into social spaces.

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Students’ perceptions, experiences and beliefs about the use of Facebook in subjects at an Australian University
Background to the Study
In many universities, academics are strategically encouraged to incorporate new media technologies into their subjects with a view to engaging students and enhancing their learning experiences. This is a response to changes in student expectations about learning environments and questions about whether existing teaching practices and models meet their needs (Berge, 2008). Thus, we can expect that a majority of our undergraduate students (or at least those born after 1982) are part of the Millennial Generation (Wood, Solomon and Allan, 2008). This cohort has been raised with interactive communication technologies (ICTs) such as the Web, and email, and now with the advent of Web2.0, a whole range of new media technologies for social networking (e.g. Facebook, Myspace, YouTube and blogs) (Wood et al., 2008). So what does the Millennial Generation expect in terms of their university educators’ engagement with these technologies and the delivery of meaningful educational experiences?

In pursuit of an answer, we note that there is limited research available in higher education that examines the integration of new media technologies into teaching and learning beyond the use of virtual worlds such as Second Life. Thus, there is limited guidance on how educators can integrate social networking sites (SNSs), such as Facebook, into subjects delivered face-to-face to enhance student engagement in meaningful ways. To address this limitation, this study explores emerging themes derived purely from the students’ perceptions, experiences and beliefs about how and why Facebook was used in their subject in Advertising, Law, Nursing and Creative Industries’ subjects at a metropolitan university in Queensland, Australia. It should be noted that in every subject identified, students’ participation in Facebook was purely voluntary and non-assessable. The paper commences with a description of the methodology used. Then the six themes are discussed together with the available literature. The paper closes with the study’s limitations and future research directions. Research Method

The research involved in-depth interviews using a semi-structured interview format (Kvale, 1996). Students were recruited through postings on the university’s online news boards and the monthly campus newspaper. Theoretical sampling (Strauss and Corbin, 1990) was used to obtain a diverse range of interviewees. Ten students, ranging in age from 18 to 47 years, were interviewed: four males and six females. There were seven domestic students and three International students from Advertising, Law, Nursing and Creative Industries. The student year levels ranged from first to...
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