Date of Conferral







Ronald Paige


While the number of students using web-based social networks has increased, the effects of such networks on education have been unclear. Therefore, this research used a case study approach to study the relationship between social connectivity and the use of Facebook in a higher education classroom as well as the relationship between age and the use of Facebook. The intent was to understand the perceived impact of the use of a social media tool on bonding, bridging, and linking. The conceptual framework was built around the theories of social capital of Lin, Portes, Putnam, and Woolcock. The research questions addressed how the use of Facebook impacted social connectivity as part of the required interactions in a traditional undergraduate classroom and how different generations used Facebook in that setting. A self-selected sample of 13 out of 13 potential participants was used to acquire demographic data and to capture learner perceptions of their Facebook experience by way of a questionnaire and a focus group. NVivo10 content analysis software used thematic coding derived from multiple close readings of the collected data to surface relationships supporting the presence of social capital. The results indicated that learners' use of Facebook influenced bridging, bonding, and linking within the classroom; however, learners wanted to keep their academic social networking separate from their personal use. The study also noted how students from different generations use Facebook in different ways. Understanding the role of social media tools may assist in innovative curriculum development that employs social networking tools, as well as help faculty determine how to use such tools to create a deeper learning experience for students.