The Relationships Between Students' Use of Instant Messaging and Their Psychological Sense of Community

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Title: The Relationships Between Students' Use of Instant Messaging and Their Psychological Sense of Community
Author: Thomas, Amanda Garland
Advisors: Joy Gaston Gayles, Ph.D., Committee Chair
Audrey J. Jaeger, Ph.D., Committee Member
Brad Mehlenbacher, Ph.D., Committee Member
Diane D. Chapman, Ed.D., Committee Member
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to understand the extent to which students’ psychological sense of community was influenced by IM use using the psychological sense of community theoretical framework created by McMillan and Chavis (1986), and the student development theoretical frameworks created by Schlossberg (1989) and Astin (1984). Thus, this study examined the relationships between the use of IM, psychological sense of community, age, gender, race, classification, college, residential status, permanent address, involvement in activities, and sense of mattering. Differences in IM use were examined using chi-square and analysis of variance. Results indicate that white students use IM more as compared to minority students and students who live off campus use IM more than students who live on campus. Students who work part-time on or off campus use IM less frequently and for shorter periods of time as compared to students who do not work part-time. In addition, minority students are less likely to use IM to communicate with classmates as compared to white students. Psychological sense of community was explored through a blocked, hierarchical multiple regression model. The results of the final model indicate that student demographic variables are not significant predictors of psychological sense of community whereas student participation in intramural/club sports, a sense of mattering to others, and the use of IM, particularly when using IM to speak with family and friends at NC State, are influential to psychological sense of community. In other words, what students do on campus, rather than who they are, seems to have the most influence on psychological sense of community with the university as a whole. The study presents implications and suggestions for future research. The differences in IM use among students should prompt educators to closely monitor trends in technology with the caveat of how these technologies are impacting student development for different types of students. College administrators must continue to find avenues to promote students’ psychological sense of community understanding that community may have a new meaning for incoming undergraduate students. Future research should include direct observation of IM use, qualitative analysis, and continued examinations of evolving communication technologies.
Date: 2009-07-22
Degree: EdD
Discipline: Higher Education Administration

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