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The use of a social networking site with pre-enrolled Business School students to enhance their first year experience at university, and in doing so, improve retention

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A Social Networking Site was explored as a medium for forging early links with students entering a UK University Business School within the North-West region. A Facebook page was specifically created for pre –enrolment contact with students coming to study on one of six pre-identified ‘retention hotspot’ courses within the department. Students firmly accepted offers to study on these courses in August 2011 and from this point, forthcoming students were invited to join the Facebook page. The Facebook page, alongside being informative, introduced forthcoming students to their prospective course mates as well as to the department, university and city. This pre-enrolment contact via Facebook aimed to engender students’ sense of belonging and facilitate social integration, not just to the student group but on a departmental level too. Sense of belonging and social integration are frequently highlighted in the literature as issues pertaining to student retention. An evaluation revealed positive feedback from the students about the Facebook page who reported that it helped to build friendships and networks earlier, faster and easier thus ultimately facilitating social integration and feelings of belonging. Figures revealed that students who were members of the Facebook page experienced higher levels of retention than non-Facebook page members.
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Keywords: feelings of belonging; social networking; student experience; student retention and success

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2013

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