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Using Facebook to Enhance Student Engagement Terri Saragosa University of Hawaii at Manoa April 25, 2013


I provide guidance and counseling to students attending Hawaii Community College who receive the N Hookama a Pauahi scholarship as a post-high counselor for Kamehameha Schools. Presently, communication with students is primarily done by phone, email or inperson. To enhance student communication, retention and progression, I plan to add Facebook as an additional communication tool. The purpose of this action research project is to explore using Facebook as a communication tool to enhance student engagement for Hawaii Community College students who receive the Na Hookama a Pauahi Scholarship. The issue I want to address is how to enhance communication and support for my students. My general objective is to impact student communication and engagement to provide effective counseling support to meet scholarship requirements and successfully complete semester classes. I plan to create a Facebook group as an additional communication tool to disseminate meaningful information, facilitate scheduling of counseling appointments and serve as a means to connect with my students. I hope to address three research questions in regards to Hawaii Community College students receiving the Na Hookama a Pauahi Scholarship. How will the addition of Facebook as a communication tool impact the rate of completion of scholarship requirements and academic progress? How will the level of engagement be impacted with the addition of Facebook as a communication tool? Using a questionnaire, how do the students perceive Facebook as an additional communication tool to facilitate meeting scholarship requirements and successfully complete semester classes? In recent years, research has shown Facebook to be the most popular social networking website among college students. According to a 2010 study on college students, of the 90% of students use social networking websites, 97% use Facebook (Smith & Caruso, 2010). In a study by Ractham and Firpo (2011), it was identified that using Facebook as an additional resource to support collaboration and communities of practice in a graduate classroom added some degree of informal learning and contributed to increased collaboration and communication. With the explosion of social networking, Facebook was able to provide users with a familiar and easy-touse technology which could easily be adapted from use in a personal setting to use in an educational setting (Ractham & Firpo, 2011). For the instructors, it was an effective use of technology and allowed increased communication and feedback from students. Research by Junco (2012) also supports that there is an opportunity for college educators to help students use Facebook in ways to benefit engagement and overall academic experience. They state that it is a significant way for higher educators to design and support interventions that meet students where they arein order to help them get to where they are going (Junco, 2012). These studies support that social networking has the potential to be used as a tool to facilitate communication and engagement with college learners. I intend to conduct my action research on Hawaii Community College students that I work with and are currently receiving the N Hookama a Pauahi scholarship. They include adult degree-seeking college students with a wide range of technological skills. The research would be


take place over the course of a semester as students are able to access the Facebook page at their convenience using their preferred method of internet access. For instrumentation, I plan to administer a questionnaire to measure student perception of using Facebook for communication. Having students complete the questionnaire at the end of each month will allow me to gather feedback and use the data to identify ways to improve the use of Facebook during the semester. Each monthly survey will also allow me to see if any revisions made impacted students. One-on-one interviews in-person or by phone would be used to gather additional feedback from students. This would be ongoing throughout the semester as I meet with my students. A review of the use and activity (student use, posts, questions, comments, etc.) on the Facebook page would be done monthly as another measure of the level of student engagement. In addition to the monthly reviews, at semesters end, I also plan to conduct a data review to determine rate of completion of scholarship requirements and academic progress for the semester (2 contacts with counselor, transcript received, community service progress, etc.). These would allow me to determine what impact Facebook had on these two issues. To conduct the study, I would need to first gain access and approval to use Facebook with my students. To implement the research, I plan to create a closed Facebook group page that will allow me to invite only the select students to join the private forum. I can then use the page as an additional means of communication, to facilitate scheduling of required counseling appointments and to disseminate meaningful information. I foresee the page as a place to post announcements, important deadlines, request feedback and provide links to useful information. Students would also be able to ask questions or provide comments on postings in a private setting. I also am looking at creating a simple instructional module that would introduce the tool and cover the basics on how students can make the most of this supplemental communication avenue. For data analysis, I plan to collect and review qualitative data from questionnaires and interviews monthly. I will review comments and student feedback to look for trends and identify ways to improve the use of Facebook. Based on monthly data, I would then fine-tune the way I use Facebook in hopes of improving student impact and perception. Because of the required time frame to receive academic data (grades, etc.) on student progress, the time frame for the research if done in the fall semester would have to be at least 5 months which would include the semester for use of Facebook and student completion of questionnaires/interviews (Fall Mid-August to Mid-December) and an additional month for transcript data review and complete data review and analysis. As counselors, our goal is student success. We are continually looking for ways to provide better services and enhance engagement with our students. This research is important because with the influx of technology and social networking, it will be interesting to see how this addition of Facebook impacts student success. The study would provide other post-high counselors with results on if Facebook is a useful effective tool to promote student communication, progress and retention. The information would also be relevant for other educators to know as they decide what communication tools may work best in their situation.


Junco, R. (2012). The relationship between frequency of Facebook use, participation in Facebook activities, and student engagement. Computers & Education, 58(1), 162171.
Ractham, P., & Firpo, D. (2011). Using social networking technology to enhance learning in higher education: A case study using Facebook. In 2011 44th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS) (pp. 110). Presented at the 2011 44th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS). doi:10.1109/HICSS.2011.479

Smith, S. D., & Caruso, J. B. (2010). The ECAR study of undergraduate students and information technology, 2010 (No. Vol. 6). Boulder, CO: EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research. Retrieved from