Although there is evidence that academically successful students are engaged with their studies, it has proved difficult to define student engagement clearly. Student engagement is commonly construed as having two dimensions, social and academic. The rapid adoption of social media and digital technologies has ensured increasing interest in using them for improving student engagement. This paper examines Facebook usage among a first year psychology student cohort and reports that although the majority of students (94%) had Facebook accounts and spent an average of one hour per day on Facebook, usage was found to be predominantly social. Personality factors influenced usage patterns, with more conscientious students tending to use Facebook less than less conscientious students. This paper argues that, rather than promoting social engagement in a way that might increase academic engagement, it appears that Facebook is more likely to operate as a distracting influence.
Proceedings of 'Changing demands, changing directions', the 28th Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education Conference (ascilite 2011), Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, 04-07 December 2011 / G. Williams, P. Statham, N. Brown and B. Cleland (eds.),