The development and validation of a new instrument to assess the role of social media in college adjustment for undergraduate students
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AbstractUndergraduate university and college students are increasingly using social media to overcome college adjustment challenges such as creating social networks, maintaining old friendships and confronting academic pressures. Areas that remain unexplored in the college adjustment literature comprise of contemporary views of how college adjustment challenges have changed since the pre-social media era, and consequently the influence of personality on these challenges. Moreover, most college adjustment research has not taken diverse social media sites into consideration, such as WhatsApp, Snapchat and Instagram. The current research addresses these issues as well as the dearth of appropriate measures to gauge the role of social media in contemporary college adjustment. Using existing offline adjustment scales such as the Student Adaptation to College Questionnaire (Baker & Siryk, 1989) and the College Adjustment Test (Pennebaker et al., 1990), the current work follows recommendations for the development of the Student Adjustment Scale to assess the role of social media as a facet of college adjustment for undergraduate students (Feldt et al., 2011a; Taylor & Pastor, 2005). The first study employs a thematic analysis of student group interviews and identifies five overarching themes associated with contemporary college adjustment issues. The second study involves devising a set of items, based on the five overarching themes, for the Student Adjustment Scale by using a principal components analysis (PCA). This results in a reliable scale with six distinct components. The third study involves a confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) but returns to an exploratory factor analysis (EFA) to further reduce the dimensions of the scale to five factors. The final study explores personality and student adjustment. Data analysis reveals that facets of the Student Adjustment Scale are predicted by personality variables where those who have a baseline of emotional stability will more likely adjust to college. Differences in data patterns across studies suggest that college adjustment may be considered both state and trait based. The overall findings illustrate that college adjustment is best considered a multi-faceted construct. Social media use is a facet of the Student Adjustment Scale but can be a distraction from time management and academic endeavours. The current work illustrates the complexity and multi-facets of college adjustment for undergraduate students in a social media era, which was previously unexplored in the context of scale development and personality. To conclude, some practical recommendations are suggested for faculty and student experience teams
PublisherUniversity of Wolverhampton
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of Wolverhampton for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
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