Date of Graduation

8-2018

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Agricultural & Extension Education (MS)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Agricultural Education, Communications and Technology

Advisor

Don Edgar

Committee Member

Kate Shoulders

Second Committee Member

Timothy Killian

Keywords

Social Constructivism, Social Interactions, Technology and Student Use

Abstract

With the development of the internet, today’s students no longer are confined to the resources only found in their classrooms or public libraries and have been given the ability to gain access to virtually unlimited quantities of information on the topics or events they are discussing in their class rooms and with their peers. The use of technology for communication and education is rapidly changing, but the challenges of technology-driven learning opportunities rest on questions of access and use. There is a need to determine whether students use these methods (i.e., technology based) to more prevalently communicate today. The primary purpose of study was to explore social interaction among DBCAFLS students at the University of Arkansas.

This study was an exploratory descriptive design using survey methodology. The purposive sample consisted of students enrolled a 1000 level course in the fall 2011 semester at the University of Arkansas. The six-question instrument was constructed as a matrix survey. The questions were designed to solicit the frequency in which each student interacted with each of their peers, by which methods they used to communicate, and for what reason their communication occurred.

Of the possible participants (N = 245), 114 contacted another student during the initial evaluation, 127 during the mid-semester evaluation and 133 during the final evaluation. The total contacts for each evaluation where 312 (initial), 392 (mid-semester), and 373 (final) which indicates that more contacts were made at mid-semester then lessened at the end of the course. Out of the possible participants (N = 245), on average 50% of the students in this course shared no contact with another student. Additionally, it indicated that students prefer face-to-face contact (n = 281) over other methods such as email, text messaging, instant messaging, Facebook, and phone. Students self-reported a technology skill level of 3.63 which states that students feel that their proficiency level related to technology use is between average and above average. Of the participants (N = 245), 208 answered that they would indeed use technology access to aid in materials needed or additional materials offered for a course.

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