Source: Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 9(4). (2009)
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This study explores how elementary education majors at a Midwestern university portray themselves on social networking sites.
The purpose of this study was to determine how current college students majoring in elementary education at a large, public Midwestern university portrayed themselves in the publicly accessible domain of Facebook and to compare these portrayals to the dispositions expected of K-12 prospective teachers by that institution.
This study was designed to answer the following questions:
What percentage of the elementary education majors at a large, public Midwestern university have a profile on Facebook?
What percentage of the elementary education majors at a large, public Midwestern university have a fully accessible profile on Facebook?
What percentage of the elementary education majors’ profiles contains material that is considered inappropriate?
What percentage of the elementary education majors’ profiles contains material considered marginally inappropriate?
What kinds of inappropriate images/messages/references are portrayed on elementary education majors’ profiles?
Study Context and Methodology
The study was conducted by examining publicly accessible profiles on Facebook posted by students enrolled in the elementary education major at a large, public Midwestern university.
Students in the major were predominately white females, aged 18-24. A small number of nontraditional, male, and minority students were part of the sample. The major had an enrollment of 471 students at the time of data collection. Of these students, 85.7% were female (n = 404), and 14.2% were male (n = 67).
Of the 471 students in the elementary education major, 76% had a profile on Facebook at the time of data collection..
Of the 471 elementary education majors, 153 students had an active, fully accessible profile on Facebook.
Of the 153 fully accessible profiles that were examined, 56% contained inappropriate material.
Of the 153 fully accessible Facebook profiles included in this study, 22% contained at least one category that was coded marginal, with no inappropriate material on the site. However, both marginal and inappropriate material may be offensive to a potential employer or parent.
Teacher educators must explicitly and forcefully teach their students that their behavior in and out of the classroom does matter.
Teacher education programs should explicitly teach dispositions and their importance, not simply assess dispositions and punish students who do not exhibit them.
Students need consistent messages regarding how to be tactful, courteous, professional, and ethical and to be reminded of the high standards of behavior that society places on teachers.