Social networking, examining its potential for student support

Joanne Smailes, Natalie Warne

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Students enter university with expectations and aspirations which in first few crucial weeks of study can influence their subsequent academic integration and achievement (Heirdsfield, Walker, & Walsh, 2008). A students’ sense of identification with their peers is important to their success (Haythornthwaite, 2008). Student isolation is a known risk of student attrition (Peel, 2000). Eggens, van der Werf, & Bosker (2007) note that personal networks affect student attainment and Clifton, Perry, Stubbs, & Roberts (2004) observes how peers give an individual the sense of coping and hence perceived control over academic progress. Due to the explosion of mobile technology use within the general population, today’s students are often referred to as either the Net Generation or Digital Natives (Oblinger & Oblinger, 2005; Prensky, 2001). Prensky (2001) and Baston (2008) note that our educational systems are not yet fully recognising the changes which have arisen from this generation. Therefore, we should be seeking ways in to embrace social media for the purposes of academic adjustment? However, the use of one Web 2.0 technology, social networking , is still known to be controversial (Selwyn, 2009). Huijser (2008) Believes there is perceived threat of using social networking in learning as it is likely to be due to the lack of control on the part of the educationalist. Others, for example Kolek & Saunders (2008) and Cain (2008) warn of the implications arising from personal disclosure on the part of the students. Where Goodall (2008) notes that digital natives may be comfortable with using technology but may need advice on appropriate use. By examining extant literature complemented by primary data, a pilot model which utilises social networking to engage students in support related activity before their studies begin is being undertaken at Newcastle Business School. This paper will: summarize the investigation undertaken which led to the development of this support model; evaluate the pilot of the support model at Northumbria University including the practical steps which can be taken to ensures social networking is operated in a safe professional context; contemplate future methods of integrating social networking into mechanisms for student support and learning.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011
EventNorth East Universities (3 Rivers Consortium) 2011 Regional Learning and Teaching Conference - Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne
Duration: 12 Apr 2011 → …


ConferenceNorth East Universities (3 Rivers Consortium) 2011 Regional Learning and Teaching Conference
Period12/04/11 → …


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