This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

First Year Student Perceptions and Effectiveness of Social Media Influence in College of Agriculture Retention Efforts in Southeastern Land-Grant Universities




Wise, Jamie

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Curriculum and Teaching


With young adults leading the way in social media usage, it has not gone unnoticed by Colleges of Agriculture administrators who want to connect with students where they are. This generation is more wired than any generation before according to researchers Barnes and Jacobsen (2013). Researchers suggest administrators must be creative to connect with a generation that is generally not persuaded by unsupported marketing approaches (Paterson, 2019). Academic institutions need tools to gather evidence on what social media platforms are most used, which types of posts are most popular, and what perceptions students have of the connection to the college due to social media. The purpose of this study was to determine first-year and first-year transfer student perceptions and effectiveness of social media influence in Southeastern Land-Grant Universities Colleges of Agriculture. The intent was to describe College of Agriculture first-year and first-year transfer student perceptions in of their College of Agriculture’s social media platforms as communication, retention, and occupational resource knowledge. Existing research offers little guidance on incorporating social media into marketing strategies within Colleges of Agriculture. Results from this study can be used for creating and revising social media practices as well as justifying resources being allocated to those efforts. Participants of this study were College of Agriculture first-year or first-year transfer majors enrolled in a public Southeastern Land-Grant University. The research objectives of this study were: (1) Identify personal and academic characteristics of the target population, (2) Identify social media platforms and other communication channels of the Colleges of Agriculture used by student, (3) Describe the effectiveness of social media on student communication, retention, and occupational resources within the College of Agriculture. This descriptive study utilized a quantitative non-experimental survey research design. The data was analyzed and reported using the statistical methods means, standard deviations, frequencies, percentages, Pearson product-moment correlation, and independent t-tests. The findings of this study indicate that Colleges of Agriculture are expected by their students to have a presence on social media but Colleges of Agriculture do not currently have a significant presence on the platforms they most often use. It was found that digital communication methods are preferred channels of communication for respondents. Substantial, significant correlations existed between students finding content relevant in order for engagement and connectedness to occur with the social media of Colleges of Agriculture.