Committee Chair

Bernard, Hinsdale

Committee Member

Ellis, Jennifer T.; Rausch, David W.; Roblyer, M. D.


Dept. of Education


College of Health, Education, and Professional Studies


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


Often in education, the phrase “meet students where they are” is used as an approach to meet ever-changing needs of students. As the popularity of social networking increases, specifically among college students, the question arises: should colleges and universities utilize social networking sites (SNS) as a supplemental educational tool? This study explored this question by using survey items based on Rogers’ (2003) Diffusion of Innovation attributes to compare faculty and students’ current rate of adoption of using SNSs and their perceptions of the advantages and disadvantages of using them as tools to enhance teaching and learning. The population consisted of School of Education faculty and students at a small, southern university. Quantitative data (from a Likert-scale survey) and qualitative data (from open-ended survey questions, a student focus group, and faculty interviews) revealed that less than half of faculty and most students are open to the notion of using SNSs for educational purposes. For faculty adopters, perceptions of the innovation-attribute constructs of compatibility, complexity, and observability were not significantly different from the perceptions of nonadopters, but relative advantage and trialability were significantly different between adopters and nonadopters. These results indicate that only the constructs of relative advantage and trialability, as described by Rogers (2003), helped determine faculty adoption decisions. For student adopter and nonadopter groups, results were not significantly different for perceptions of trialability, but they were different for perceptions of relative advantage, compatibility, complexity, and observability. Thus, results indicate that all innovation attributes described by Rogers (2003) except trialability contributed to students’ adoption decisions. This study also discovered the faculty and students’ perceived benefits (i.e., communication and online discussion) and disadvantages (i.e., privacy, confidentiality, and distraction issues) of using SNSs in education. The study concluded that less than half of faculty’s and most students’ willingness to adopt SNSs for educational purposes is tempered by their concerns about privacy and confidentiality.


First and foremost, I would like to thank God for His boundless grace and unmerited favor. This accomplishment is yet another manifestation of His love and mercy. I would also like to acknowledge several people with whom I am greatly indebted as I know that without their guidance, support, and efforts the completion of this dissertation might not have been possible. Firstly, I am most grateful to my mentor Dr. M. D. Roblyer for her endless guidance, support, and encouragement throughout this process. Her enthusiasm, accessibility, encouraging words, and friendly nudges have been the driving forces behind my completion. I am thankful for Dr. Hinsdale Bernard’s leadership as the Chair of the committee. I am also thankful to my entire committee, Dr. Hinsdale Bernard, Dr. M. D. Roblyer, Dr. Jennifer Ellis, and Dr. David Rausch, for their ongoing support and commitment to my success. Thanks also to Dr. Keith White, Director of Research and Effectiveness of the Public Education Foundation, who shared his dissertation story as words of encouragement and assisted with statistical concerns. Additionally, I am grateful to Ms. Wanda Budan, Administrative Specialist-School of Education, who forwarded several emails to the School of Education faculty and students to encourage their participation in the study by completing the online survey. Thanks to all of the faculty and students who participated in this study by either completing the survey or participating in a focus group or interview. Your stories, experiences, and responses have added to the depth of this study. A special thanks to my parents, Elijah and Mary Cameron, who have always shown their love and support throughout my life. Thank you both for the encouragement to reach higher heights and never give up. Thank you for your faith in me. My husband, Talley, has been supportive and understanding throughout this long, yet rewarding journey. My sons, Landon and Tyson, I am extremely grateful for the opportunity of being your mother and marvel at the lessons I have learned in parenting you. Finally, and by no means least, I am thankful for my sister, Tamekia, for her undying friendship, shared laughter and tears, and continued love and support. My nephew, Cameron, for making me feel like the best aunt ever.


Ed. D.; A dissertation submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Doctor of Education.




Online social networks; Internet in higher education; Social media; Educational technology; Teaching -- Methodology; Education -- Study and teaching


social networking; higher education; technology in education

Document Type

Doctoral dissertations




xii, 104 leaves