The Impact of Facebook Access in Creating a Sense of Community in Tourism and Recreation Classes

Date of Conferral


Date of Award

January 2012


Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Long, Nathan; Miller, Heather


Previous research has indicated that college students use social networking sites such as Facebook to establish friendships, maintain communication, and foster a sense of community; research also has indicated that many college instructors do not. Many college faculty acknowledge the importance of a sense of community in the classroom but are reluctant to try social media as a way to enhance student motivation, affective learning, and classroom climate. The purpose of this ex post facto, causal comparative study was to determine if there was a statistically significant difference in tourism and recreation students' self-reported sense of community when an instructor's Facebook page was accessible to one group over another during the semester. Social learning and connectivism theories served as the theoretical framework for the study. The data originated from 105 tourism and recreation students at a public university in the Midwestern United States. Fifty-three students assigned to the control group became "friends" on Facebook with an instructor but had limited access to comments, photos, videos, and links; 52 students assigned to the treatment group had full access to an instructor's profile. Both groups completed surveys that measured sense of community. Data were analyzed using ANOVA. Results indicated no significant difference in the self-reported sense of community between the groups. This study may contribute to the existing literature on connectivism as an alternative learning theory. Implications for positive social change include increasing instructors and administrators' understanding of the limitations of social media when used to increase cohesiveness and enhance sense of community in the classroom.

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