Collage of social media images taken from Colorado Mesa University's social media channels.
Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and YouTube are just a few of the social media platforms now used on a daily basis throughout the world.


CMU undergraduates’ research recently published

There were 2.01 billion (with a b) monthly active users on Facebook as of June 30. That's more than a quarter of the world’s population. In less than 15 years, social media platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and YouTube have become engrained in society and individuals’ daily lives including many college students.

If you’ve walked around a college campus lately, you may have noticed students ample use of their phones. Students walking to class with their eyes glued to their phone screen or sitting between classes scrolling on their preferred social network or maybe even taking a peek at their phone in class.

Louis Nadelson, PhD, director of the Office of Sponsored Programs and Academic Research, and six undergraduate students also noticed these habits. They delved into college students' perceptions of social media through a research project titled “Snap, Tweet and Post: College Student Social Media Perceptions and Heutagogic Practices and Uses”, which was recently published in the International Journal of Higher Education.

The research project was conducted by Nadelson’s fall 2016 Research Methods Class that included students William Berg, Brandon Fox, Preston Grandbouche, Michael Harris, Tia Kroschel and Sean Sandoval. In 16 weeks, the class researched and found a topic, refined its questions, wrote a survey, collected data, analyzed the data and drew results and conclusions.

“I would have to say this was probably the first time any of us, my classmates or I, had to do a project like this,” said Kroschel, a junior studying mathematics and statistics. “None of us were familiar with how to do a project like this from start to finish. Dr. Nadelson was very experienced so it was helpful having his leadership.”

This was the first time Nadelson conducted a research project with undergraduates. The biggest challenge the group encountered during the course of this project was a lack of time. Much of the research was conducted outside of the classroom and the students’ time was spread thin between other commitments such as jobs, sports, or clubs and organizations. The students’ eagerness to complete the research kept it moving along, said Nadelson who was delighted by their commitment.  

“It is critical to provide students with those types of authentic learning experiences,” he said. “The authenticity of this project contributes to the larger community, not just in the classroom.”

Both Nadelson and Kroschel were surprised by certain findings from the research, especially that 77.2 percent of participants when asked if texting was social media answered “not at all”, “a little bit” or “somewhat”.  Those responses came even though participants defined social media to have similar characteristics to texting.

The group's findings also included: 31.4 percent of participants least favorite aspect of social media is that it is time consuming/distracting, 63.39 percent use social media two hours or more daily and 40.85 percent check their social media every hour or more frequently.

The International Journal of Higher Education published their full research and findings in Vol. 6, No. 4. Read their full publication online.

“I recently typed my name into Google Scholar and there it was. It was a pretty awesome feeling and I don’t think l I would have ever pursued getting published so I’m glad that he (Dr. Nadelson) suggested that we do it,” Kroschel said. “It was such a good learning experience that included a lot of hands-on activities that will stick with me much longer than just book work.”

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