Accessible Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Oldenbourg September 30, 2014

Faculty and student interactions via Facebook: Policies, preferences, and practices

Carolyn Hank, Cassidy R. Sugimoto, Andrew Tsou and Jeffrey Pomerantz


Students and faculty members have always interacted informally. However, Facebook and other social networking sites (SNSs) present interaction spaces that blur the boundaries between professional, academic and personal lives. The impetus for this study is to understand the extent of SNS-mediated informal interactions between faculty members and students and the policies, preferences, and practices that inform these interactions. Adopting a multiple-case approach, interviews with faculty members and graduate students at three North American library and information science schools were completed to examine behaviors when interacting through Facebook. Additionally, syllabi at two of the case settings were analyzed to see if they contain any polices, guidelines, or other expectations for faculty and student interactions via SNSs. Interview findings show that a majority of faculty members and students prefer not to interact via Facebook, with several having developed ad hoc, informal personal guidelines informing their decision-making. No faculty or students reported explicit SNS policies or guidelines at their respective institutions addressing faculty-student interactions. The lack of explicit directives was apparent in the syllabi analysis as well. The implications for higher education and development of policies are discussed.

Received: 2014-6-3
Accepted: 2014-8-13
Published Online: 2014-9-30
Published in Print: 2014-10-28

©2014 Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston