Using Social Networking to Increase Student Retention

We’ve been diving into a considerable amount of research on how social factors influence student retention at colleges. As social networking sites like Facebook continue to grow in popularity it is our belief that technology is a vital part of today’s student success equation.

Below is a list of academic sources we’ve found particularly interesting in the social networking and student retention space.

We summarized this research into a White Paper titled: The Social Side of Student Retention. Feel free to download it with the link, and we’d love to hear any feedback you might have.

From Research to Practice

Although online community building tools have been a central component of our research initiative with the Gates Foundation, we’ve just now been receiving initial results showing how our schools social media efforts can correlate with student retention outcomes.

Download our Social Networks and First Year Retention Results, and feel free to check out our bibliography of research below.

Supporting Academic Research

Retention and Engagement

  1. Bai, Haiyan; Pan, Wei. A Multilevel Approach to Assessing the Interaction Effects on College Student Retention. Journal of College Student Retention; Research, Theory & Practice, v11 n2 p287-301 2009-2010.
  2. Borglum, K. & Kubala, T. (2000) “Academic and social integration of community college students: a case study” Community College Journal of Research and Practice vol. 24 pp.567-576.
  3. Braxton, J.M. (ed.) (2000/02) Reworking the student departure puzzle (Vanderbilt University Press)
  4. Coll, Kenneth M.; Stewart, Roger A. College Student Retention: Instrument Validation and Value for Partnering between Academic and Counseling Services. College Student Journal, v42 n1 p41-56 Mar 2008.
  5. Thomas, E.A.M. (2002a) “Building social capital to improve student success” BERA conference
  6. Thomas, S.L. (2000) “Ties that bind: A social network approach to understanding student integration and persistence” Journal of Higher Education vol. 75 no. 5 pp.591-615.
  7. Tinto, V. (1975) “Dropout from Higher Education: A Theoretical Synthesis of Recent Research” Review of Educational Research vol. 45, pp.89-125.
  8. Wilcox, Paula; Winn, Sandra; Fyvie-Gauld, Marylynn. “It Was Nothing to Do with the University, It Was Just the People”: The Role of Social Support in the First-Year Experience of Higher Education. Studies in Higher Education, v30 n6 p707-722 Dec 2005.

*Credit Stephen W. Draper, Department of Psychology, University of Glasgow for a good discussion of the Tinto model and its use today, as well as many sources.

Social Networking and Retention

  1. Boyd, D. (2009, April 18). Living and Learning with Social media. Penn State Symposium for Teaching and Learning with Technology . State College, PA.
  2. Boyd, D., & Ellison, N. (2007). Social Network Sites: Definition, history, and scholarship. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication , 13 (1).
  3. Brewer, L. C., & Yu, C. H. (2008, October 29). Crafting a Campus Identity: First-Year Students, Residential Life, and Social Networking. Educause 2008. Denver, CO.
  4. Coughlan, S. (2009, October 13). Facebook ‘cuts student drop-outs’. Retrieved October 27, 2009 from BBC News: link.
  5. Ellison, N., Steinfield, C., & Lampe, C. (2007). The benefits of Facebook “friends:” Social capital and college students’ use of online social network sites. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication , 12 (4).
  6. Neff, G. (2005). The Changing Place of Cultural Production: The Location of Social Networks in a Digital Media Industry. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science , 597, 134-152.
  7. Toral, S. L., Martinez-Torres, M. R., Barrero, F., & Cortes, F. (2009). An empirical study of the driving forces behind online communities. Internet Research , 19 (40), 378-392.
  8. Valenzuela, S., Park, N., & Kee, K. (2009). Is There Social Capital in a Social Network Site?: Facebook Use and College Students’ Life Satisfaction, Trust, and Participation. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication .
  9. Valenzuela, S., Park, N., & Kee, K. (2008, April 4-8). Lessons from Facebook: The Effect of Social Network Sites on College Students’ Social Capital. Submitted to the 9th International Symposium on Online Journalism .
  10. Wellman, B., Quan Haase, A., Witte, J., & Hampton, K. (2001). Does the Internet Increase, Decrease, or Supplement Social Capital? Social Networks, Participation, and Community Commitment. The American Behavioral Scientist , 45 (3), 436-455.

More Resources From Social Networking Researchers

  • Danah Boyd, Microsoft (link). (includes extensive SN bibliography)
  • Sebastian Valenzuela, UT Austin (link).
  • Matthew Pittisky, ASU (link).
  • Bernice Franklin

    I found this article useful in a paper I am writing at university. Hopefully, I get an A+ now!


    Bernice Franklin

  • Dating

    Beyond that, students use these social media tools to
    create wikis, blogs, journals, and podcasts to develop scholarly research,
    publish interactive academic presentations, and showcase personal interests and
    achievements. Baldwin-Wallace’s Manager of …

  • Abidan

    The book “Voluntary Student Clubs” shows the impact of student organizations on retention rates.

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