Integrating Facebook into a University cohort to enhance student sense of belonging: a pilot program in Sport and Exercise Science.

  • Teneale Alyce McGuckin James Cook University
  • Rebecca Maree Sealey James Cook University
Keywords: Facebook, university, student experience, sense of belonging


University initiatives that enhance a students’ sense of belonging may increase student retention and the overall student experience. Previous initiatives have largely focussed on face-to-face interactions however with the high usage of social networking, an online initiative may prove beneficial. The aim of this study was to establish a Facebook account for a University cohort aimed at enhancing student sense of belonging. A Facebook account was established for students enrolled in Sport and Exercise Science degrees at a regional University. Ten weeks after account creation, students were invited to complete an online survey irrespective of whether or not they used Facebook. Fifty-five responses were collected. Most respondents (67.6 to 94.6%) agreed/strongly agreed that the account gave them the opportunity to engage with peers and the Sport and Exercise community and contributed positively to their University experience. Suggestions for improvement included more frequent status and information updates.

Author Biographies

Teneale Alyce McGuckin, James Cook University
Miss Teneale McGuckin is an Associate Lecturer for the School of Public Health, Tropical Medicine and Rehabilitation Sciences at James Cook University. Miss McGuckin’s research interests include elite sporting performance and University student engagement.
Rebecca Maree Sealey, James Cook University
Dr Rebecca Sealey is a Senior Lecturer for the School of Public Health, Tropical Medicine and Rehabilitation Sciences at James Cook University and is a James Cook University Teaching Scholar. Dr Sealey’s research interests include exercise for chronic disease management and the scholarship of teaching and learning within higher education.


Baker, S., & Pomerantz, N. (2000). Impact of learning communities on retention at a metropolitan university. Journal of College Student Retention, 2(2), 115-126. Doi: EJ613237; 1521-0251

Cohen, S., & Wills, T.H. (1985). Social Support and Health. New York: Academic Press.

Dabner, N. (2012). ‘Breaking Ground’ in the use of social media: A case study of a university earthquake response to inform educational design with Facebook. Internet and Higher Education, 15 (1), 69-78. Doi: 10.1016/j.iheduc.2011.06.001.

Elliott, K.M. (2002). Key determinants of student satisfaction. Journal of College Student Retention, 4(3), 271-279. Doi: EJ668208; 1521-0251

Ellison, N.B., Steinfield, C., & Lampe, C. (2007). The benefits of Facebook “Friends”: Social capital and college students’ use of online social network sites. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 12(4), 1143-1168. Doi: 10.1111/j.1083-6101.2007.00367.x.

Facebook Newsroom (2012, February 10). Facebook Statistics. Retrieved from

Forkosh-Baruch, A., & Hershkovitz, A. (2012). A case study of Israeli higher-education institutes sharing scholarly information with the community via social networks. Internet and Higher Education, 15(1), 56-68. Doi: 10.1016/j.iheduc.2011.08.003.

Glass, N., & Walter, R. (2000). An experience of peer mentoring with student nurses: enhancement of personal and professional growth. Journal of Nursing Education, 39(4), 155-160. Doi: EJ607570; 0022-3158

Hagerty, B.M.K., Williams, R.A., Coyne, J.C., & Early, M.R. (1996). Sense of belonging and indicators of social and psychological functioning. Archives of Psychiatric Nursing, 10(4), 235-244. Doi: 10.1016/S0883-9417(96)80029-X

Hagerty, B.M.K., Lynch-Sauer, J., Patusky, K., Bouwseman, M., & Collier, P. (1992). Sense of belonging: a vital mental health concept. Archives of Psychiatric Nursing, 6(3), 172-177. Doi: 10.1016/0883-9417(92)90028-H

Hoffman, M., Richmond, J., Morrow, J., & Salomone, K. (2002). Investigating “sense of belonging” in first-year college students. Journal of College Student Retention, 4(3), 227-256. Doi: EJ668206; 1521-0251

Landry, B.J.L., Griffeth, R., & Hartman, S. (2006). Measuring student perceptions of Blackboard using the technology acceptance model. Decision Sciences Journal of Innovative education, 4(1), 87-99. Doi: 10.1111/j.1540-4609.2006.00103.x

Madge, C., Meek, J., Wellens, J., & Hooley, T. (2009). Facebook, social integration and informal learning at university: ‘It is more for socialising and talking to friends about work than for actually doing work.’ Learning, Media and Technology, 34(2), 141-155. Doi: 10.1080/17439880902923606.

McInnes, C., James, R., & Hartley, R. (2000). Trends in the first year experience in Australian Universities. Retrieved from the department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs, Commonwealth of Australia website:

Napoli, A.R. & Wortman, P.M. (1998). Psychosocial factors related to retention and early departure of two-year community college students. Research in Higher Education, 39(4), 419-455. Doi: 10.1023/A:1018789320129

Pitkethly, A., & Prosser, M. (2001). The first year experience project: a model for University-wide change. Higher Education Research and Development, 20(2), 185-198. Doi: 10.1080/07294360120064420.

Selwyn, N. (2009). Faceworking: exploring students’ education-related use of Facebook. Learning, Media and Technology, 34(2), 157-174. Doi:


Treston, H. (1999). Peer mentoring: Making a difference at James Cook University, Cairns it’s moments like these you need mentors. Innovations in Education and Training International, 36(3), 236-243. Doi: 10.1080/1355800990360309

Wodzicki, K., Schwammlein, E., & Moskaliuk, J. (2012). “Actually, I wanted to learn”: Study-related knowledge exchange on social networking sites. Internet and Higher Education, 15(1), 9-14. Doi: 10.1016/j.iheduc.2011.05.008.

Zhao, C., & Kuh, G.D. (2004). Adding value: learning communities and student engagement. Research in Higher Education, 45(2), 115-138. Doi: 10.1023/

How to Cite
McGuckin, T., & Sealey, R. (2013). Integrating Facebook into a University cohort to enhance student sense of belonging: a pilot program in Sport and Exercise Science. Australian Educational Computing, 28(1). Retrieved from
Research Articles (Refereed/Reviewed)