About the Study

Today social, online platforms facilitate how we share, communicate, and connect with one another. Increasingly in higher education, we see graduate students, staff, and scholar-practitioners in student affairs on social media to solicit advice, offer personal reflections, share resources, join in on a group discussion, participate in learning, and build professional relationships online. Digital tools and social technologies help us leverage what we do within our professional network and contribute to online communities — but what does all of this mean for higher education and student affairs?

The Networked Communities of Practice (#NetworkedCoP) study is created to explore how student affairs and higher education professionals participate in online networked communities. We would like to learn how and why graduate students, professional staff, senior administrators, and scholar-practitioners in higher ed are engaged with blogging, Facebook group discussion, Twitter chats, creating podcasts, using hashtags and more for their networking, learning, and contributions to the field.  Consider participating in our study to tell us:

  • What communities you participate and interact with online?
  • Why do you contribute or interact with these networked communities?
  • How does your digital practice impact your professional identity and influence?
  • What type of professional development, networking, and learning have you experienced from these communities?
  • What benefits, challenges, and affordances occur within this networked practice?

We believe our study will directly examine the following ACPA/NASPA Professional Competencies [PDF], including these specific areas:

  • Personal and Ethical Foundations (PPF) Intermediate: Analyze personal experiences for potential deeper learning and growth, and engage with others in reflective discussions.
  • Organizational and Human Resources (OHR) Advanced: Develop or lead professional development initiatives that regularly assess the strength and weakness of professionals and provide them with purposeful opportunities to advance their skills and knowledge.
  • Leadership (LEAD) Intermediate: Create environments that encourage others to view themselves as having the potential to make meaningful contributions to their communities and be civically engaged in their Communities.
  • Technology Foundation (TECH) Intermediate: Proactively cultivate a digital identity, presence, and reputation for one’s self and by students that models appropriate online behavior and positive engagement with others in virtual communities.

It will also examine the following CACUSS Student Affairs and Services Competency Model, including these specific areas:

  • Intercultural Fluency – Advanced: Consider opportunities for respectfully integrating diverse worldviews within a broader understanding of social sustainability and the work of SAS.
  • Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion – Core:   Identify systems of socialization that influence one’s multiple identities and sociopolitical perspectives and how they impact one’s lived experiences.
  • Technology and Digital Engagement – Advanced: Contribute to, partner with, and/or provide leadership for local, provincial, national, and global digital professional learning communities and personal learning networks in promoting the use of technology for educational purposes.

This research project is being conducted by Dr. Paul Eaton (Sam Houston State University) and Dr. Laura Pasquini (University of North Texas) and has been approved by the SHSU Institutional Review Board (#30423) and the UNT Institutional Review Board (#16-310). [IRB: irb-16-310-pasquini-approval-letter]