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Social Networking Sites & Student Engagement

Week 3 Assignment for AL 883: Finding a journal article about education & tech.

Citation: Koranteng, F. N., Wiafe, I., & Kuada, E. (2018). An Empirical Study of the Relationship Between Social Networking Sites and Students’ Engagement in Higher Education. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 0735633118787528.

For this assignment, I chose to find an article from the Journal of Educational Computing Research. The article title is "An Empirical Study of the Relationship Between Social Networking Sites and Students’ Engagement in Higher Education" (2018) by Felix N. Koranteng, Isaac Wiafe, and Eric Kuada.

With the rise of digital environments, many courses are using social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter as an additional digital space for their students. Using social capital theory, the authors were trying to figure out the relationship between SNS, social capital, and knowledge sharing among students. The authors note that much of the research on student engagement typically focuses on student learning outcomes, noting that previous studies show that engagement and interaction directly influence student learning. They also note that previous research has shown a relationship between social media/social networks and student engagement, and demonstrate through their literature review that SNS platforms encourage active learning, effective communication, and information sharing.

Hypothesizing that trust, norm of reciprocity, identification, and language all contribute to the level of interaction within social networks, the researchers used a self-reported survey and then analyzed the results using structural equation modeling.

They found that social networking sites have indeed aided in the interconnectivity among students. Contradicting prior studies, the researchers did not find a significant relationship between trust and knowledge sharing, whereas identification and norm of reciprocity were significant predictors of knowledge sharing among students. Further, they discovered that social networking sites did not significantly impact knowledge sharing in an academic context, meaning that their results did not indicate that social networking sites as a site of knowledge sharing did not mean that academic knowledge was being exchanged.

Thus, the researchers concluded that social networking sites did not have a significant impact on student engagement because students were not using the sites to exchange academic knowledge. The researchers concluded that this may be due to the norms and organization of social networking sites.

Limitations of the study include using self reported surveys as well as a lack of theorizing about social norms across platforms. For me, this article did not necessarily tell me something that I was not already aware of, and would not be particularly useful for my teaching. I feel that maybe if researchers approached it from a slightly different theoretical framework they may have discovered some surprising results, but cannot really provide better theories for their research questions. Further, the researchers used WhatsApp as a social networking site, when WhatsApp is not an SNS but an instant messaging service. Coming from a communication and internet studies background, the lack of distinction between these platforms is a glaring error. Regardless, the study did find some interesting relationships regarding trust and knowledge sharing.

© 2018 by Julia DeCook.