First year nursing students' experiences of social media during the transition to university: a focus group study.

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Publication Type:
Journal Article
Contemporary Nurse, 2016, 52 (5), pp. 625 - 635
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BACKGROUND: Social media platforms such as Facebook allow users to connect with each other online. They are also used as tools for creating communities, which can then be utilised as a mean for supportive, professional and social learning. OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to explore first year Bachelor of Nursing student experiences with social media in supporting student transition and engagement into higher education. DESIGN: Qualitative focus groups Methods: First year Bachelor of Nursing students were conveniently sampled for inclusion in this study. Ten students were included in three face-to-face focus groups which lasted between 45 minutes and one hour each. When it became apparent that no new information was emerging from focus groups, recruitment stopped. Sessions were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data were analysed using qualitative thematic content analysis. RESULTS: Three key themes emerged from the data that illustrates the experiences of transition and engagement of first year student nurses using social media at university. These were; 1) Facilitating familiarity and collaboration at a safe distance; 2) Promoting independent learning by facilitating access to resources; and 3) Mitigating hazards of social media. CONCLUSION: This study has demonstrated the importance of social media applications such as Facebook in supporting informal peer-peer learning and support, augmenting online and offline relationships, and building professional identity as a nurse. Students reported active increased use when assessments were due and while on clinical placement. Students found Facebook useful as an avenue to debrief and reflect, whilst on clinical placement, and as a tool to meet new friends and strengthen existing relationships. There is need for future research and evaluation of interventions that bridge the divide between traditional learning platforms such as Blackboard and social media platforms.
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