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it - Information Technology

Methods and Applications of Informatics and Information Technology

Editor-in-Chief: Conrad, Stefan / Molitor, Paul

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Volume 56, Issue 5


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

Carolyn Hank / Cassidy R. Sugimoto / Andrew Tsou / Jeffrey Pomerantz
Published Online: 2014-09-30 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/itit-2014-1061


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.

Keywords: ACM CCS→Social and professional topics→Professional topics→Computing education→Computing education programs→Information science education; ACM CCS→Social and professional topics→Professional topics→Computing education→Informal education; ACM CCS→Social and professional topics→Computing/technology policy; ACM CCS→Proper nouns: People; technologies and companies→Technologies→Facebook; Social media; Social networking sites; Honor codes; Graduate programs; Dual relationships; Context collapse

About the article

Carolyn Hank

Carolyn Hank is Assistant Professor at the School of Information Sciences at the University of Tennessee (UT). Her research examines how scholars communicate via social media and their behaviors, preferences and perceptions for short- and long-term access and preservation of their informal communications. She teaches in the areas of human information interactions, digital curation and research methods.

School of Information Sciences, University of Tennessee, Suite 420 B

Cassidy R. Sugimoto

Cassidy R. Sugimoto is Assistant Professor in the School of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University Bloomington. She conducts research in the areas of scholarly communication and scientometrics and is the co-editor of Beyond Bibliometrics (MIT Press) and Scholarly Metrics under the Microscope (ITI).

School of Informatics and Computing, Indiana University Bloomington, LI013

Andrew Tsou

Andrew Tsou is doctoral student in the School of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University Bloomington. He conducts research into computer-mediated communication phenomena, as well as popular science communication initiatives.

School of Informatics, Indiana University Bloomington

Jeffrey Pomerantz

Jeffrey Pomerantz is Associate Professor and past Director of Undergraduate Studies and the Field Experience Program in the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He was Visiting Professor at the University of Washington Information School (2013–2014).

School of Information and Library Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Accepted: 2014-08-13

Received: 2014-06-03

Published Online: 2014-09-30

Published in Print: 2014-10-28

Citation Information: it - Information Technology, Volume 56, Issue 5, Pages 216–223, ISSN (Online) 2196-7032, ISSN (Print) 1611-2776, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/itit-2014-1061.

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