Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Psychology & Higher Education

First Committee Member

Gwen Marchand

Second Committee Member

Kim Nehls

Third Committee Member

Stefani Relles

Fourth Committee Member

Travis Olson

Number of Pages



The recent decade of technological advancements has shaped an increasingly digital experience in the everyday lives of people around the globe. One popular digital landscape for people is social networking sites (SNSs). Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram in particular, have a large following of users from the adolescent and college-age demographic (Pew Research Center, 2019). In response, educators are integrating SNSs into classrooms to increase student engagement (Carpenter & Krutka, 2014). This raises concerns from all involved stakeholders as the social and psychological impacts of SNSs are still largely debated (Verduyn et al., 2017). This study confronts research lacunae across literatures that investigate SNS-integrated classrooms by specifically exploring student engagement from a theoretical lens rooted in motivation theory (Connell & Wellborn, 1991), and examining its relation to personal SNS use to understand how belonging across physical and digital contexts influences student engagement in a SNS-integrated course. Data were collected across three timepoints from undergraduate students at a single university in the southwest region of the United States. Quantitative data were analyzed in a path model using a multiple regression framework. Qualitative data from survey and interview methods were integrated with quantitative analyses to interpret study findings. Results indicate that feelings of belonging within a student’s personal SNS world reveal significant and positive effects on feelings of belonging with different social partners in the course SNS (classroom peers, instructor, in the course broadly); however, only feelings of belonging with the instructor mediate the relationship between belonging in the personal SNS world and self-reports of student engagement. Integration analyses suggest that SNS integration can effectively increase student engagement when course instructors intentionally support the dynamic social needs of contemporary students and incorporate SNS interactions with face-to- face time spent in the physical classroom.


Facebook; Psychosocial; Relatedness; Self-system model of motivational development; Social media; Twitter


Education | Educational Psychology

File Format


File Size

2.3 MB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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