Date of Award

May 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Erik Timmerman

Committee Members

Kathryn Dindia, Kathryn Fonner, Edward Mabry, Hayeon Song


College, Educational Institutions, Facebook, Multiple Targets, Organizational Identification, Tenure


Potential uses for Facebook are frequently studied in scholarly literature. To date, much of this research focuses on varied social uses available to Facebook members. More recently, scholars have turned to potential academic uses of Facebook, and more generally, how Facebook might be used in educational institutions such as colleges and universities. Each college and university is a unique organization and it is likely that each one uses Facebook in a variety of different ways. However, consistent to all colleges and universities is the goal of creating strong levels of identification between the student and the school so as to form connections between institutional members. This dissertation provides an exploratory investigation to examine how students' interactions with universities on Facebook efforts might facilitate identification with the school as well as with various subgroups or targets (i.e. students, faculty, staff, major, alumni) within the institution. The researcher collected data from 343 participants. Frequency of Facebook access was not linked to identification; rather, data indicated that the number of Facebook friends also present at the same school was a useful predictor of student levels of identification. The institution at which a student was enrolled moderated the relationship between several predictor variables and identification. Specifically, institution moderated a positive relationship between one type of information sought on Facebook (religious communication) and identification and a negative relationship between two types of information sought on Facebook (student-to-student communication, student-to-faculty communication) and identification. Further, results indicate that students identify differently with various college and university targets, as the type of information sought on Facebook ranged across institutional targets. Facebook is a powerful tool for connecting with students, but additional longitudinal research is necessary to better understand how Facebook helps develop identification at colleges and universities.