The effect of social media, especially Facebook (FB) on college students’ engagement:
Junco, R., 2012. The relationship between the frequency of Facebook use, participation in Facebook activities, and student engagement. Computers & Education, 58(1), pp.162-171.
In order to determine the link between frequency of Facebook use, participation in Facebook activities, and student engagement, Junco, investigates a large sample (N = 2368) of college student data collected online at a primary residential institution from the USA.
The author employed Hierarchical linear regression models to find the relationship between the frequency of Facebook use and student engagement. The results suggest that time spent on Facebook is both positively and negatively related to student engagement. However, other researchers (HERI 2007) (Heiberger and Harper 2008) have found that Facebook use is positively related to engagement.
The major limitation of this study is that it is cross-sectional and correlational in nature, and therefore it is impossible to determine the causation between the frequency of Facebook use and engagement. In a natural setting, that is especially when teaching in our classrooms at the university, when students are left unguided, they will use Facebook in ways that are both positively and negatively related to their engagement.
One thing I noticed is that it lacks discussion groups (forums and threads), where students could discuss their coursework uploading documents, pictures and videos. On the other hand, Facebook can very well handle discussion groups with embedded forums and threads.
In 2013, while I was instructing Direct Numerical Simulations course at Aalto University, in Finland. I used Facebook for discussions, which significantly increased the student engagement. Recently I have seen instructors at the Surrey sports park also utilising Facebook for their discussions and training sessions.
A drawback, I could think of with using Facebook would be that it has personal information and some of the students would mind using Facebook for a discussion over a course with lecturers (V1). Some students might not want to use Facebook for several other reasons including religious beliefs. Therefore, I think at the universities, in general, should extend their learning platform to support social discussion forums (A123) where all the students enrolled would like to participate in learning (V1-2) significantly increasing the student engagement not only between the students and instructor but also amongst the students themselves (A4, K2-4).