What Educational Leaders Should Know about Social Media, Collaboration, and Doctoral Learning

Johnson, K., Roberts, J. Stout, M., Susberry Hill, M., & Wells, L.
Presentation Date: 
Thursday, November 23, 2017
Event or Conference: 
AECT Internatinal Conference
Presentation Type: 
Paper Presentation
Boyer's Domain: 
Presentation Location: 
Jacksonville, FL 32216
United States
Abstract Edit Abstract Graduate students, especially in the United States, are reaching out through social media to enhance their Personal Learning Networks (PLN) (Bennett & Folley, 2014); however, very little is known about the how or why doctoral students are using social media. Several research studies have suggested that online doctoral program developers may need to analyze why some students are not completing their dissertation and end up All But Dissertation (ABD). Despite having access to multiple resources and access to other students and instructors through conventional and online methods (Hilscher, 2013), many students are not completing their degree programs. For example, several blogs (Adler, n.d), Facebook pages, Twitter pages, and websites, such as those of graduate student associations, show doctoral students posting about their experiences and sharing advice. The need for answers to such questions provided a strong motivation to conduct an exploratory qualitative content analysis study. Knowing how doctoral students are reaching out to enhance their learning experiences would improve how educators, learners, and career networks communicate, distribute information, improve marketing, and enhance doctoral student learning and form a foundation for emerging careers. The purpose of this qualitative study was to add to the general knowledge and understanding of how doctoral students use social media as they proceed through doctoral programs. Since the purpose of the study was to investigate circumstances and the responses of the doctoral students’ personal narratives to determine themes and characteristics as described by Gelo, Braakman, and Benetka (2008), an exploratory qualitative methodology was chosen. Using exploratorye content analysis, both the views and the experiences of participants were analyzed using nVivo software. The data samples consisted of secondary data collected from an online social media venue: a Facebook closed group. Permission was obtained from the director of a closed Facebook group called Path to Dissertation (PtD) to conduct research, IRB approval was obtained, the researchers gathered and analyzed posts and comments made January 1, 2016, through October 31, 2016. After the posts and replies had been collected, they were rated as to their level of significance to the purpose of the study by the researchers, who are experts at using a Likert scale, and then the ratings were averaged. Informed consent was obtained from the students to use personal postings, and five students were interviewed for further clarification of their posts. Posts that rated 3 or higher on a 1 to 5 scale were considered for the study.