Staying connected and engaged with the use of Facebook: Experiences of studying Pathology

Jyothi Thalluri, Joy Penman

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearch


This study aims to understand the impact of using the social networking site Facebook in learning and teaching some aspects of a Pathology course delivered at a South Australian university. Another aim is to recommend good practice guidelines in the use of Facebook and provide key principles to ensure maximum learning and quality course delivery. In 2013, Facebook was used by first- and second-year Medical Radiation students in learning an aspect (case scenario) of a Pathology course. All students who participated in the Facebook activity were invited to complete a questionnaire before and after the conclusion of the course. A pre- and post-intervention mixed method study design was used. A 14-item preintervention and a 25-item post-intervention questionnaire were used to obtain information concerning students’ initial perceptions about Facebook and their experiences in using Facebook as they try to learn a Pathology course, respectively. Before students became part of the Facebook group, they were requested to complete the pre-intervention questionnaire mainly to understand their perceptions on the use of Facebook as a learning tool. The course coordinator created a closed Facebook group and then emailed students and staff inviting them to participate. Once the lecturer accepted their request to be part of the group, they were then able to view the content and the exchanges began. The students, working in groups, discussed the case scenarios via this platform. Evaluation of the learning that transpired using Facebook was conducted at the conclusion of the course using a post-intervention questionnaire. Of the 152 students enrolled in the Pathology course in 2013, there were 148 students who participated in the Facebook group. Of the 148, 95 students completed the preintervention questionnaire and 61 students completed the post-intervention questionnaire.
From the outset, the majority of students reported that Facebook could be a tool for learning and that it could enhance the interaction between students and staff. Postintervention results reveal also positive perceptions about the application of Facebook in the Pathology course. Students report that Facebook gave them flexibility, provided opportunities to learn and work with peers, direct their own learning, helped students engage with the course content, synthesise knowledge, interact with peers and lecturer, and was an effective and innovative way to learn, and increased their understanding of disease processes. In fact, the majority of the respondents recommended the initiative to other students.
This study indicated that using Facebook offered many benefits and advantages for students. Good practice guidelines for use include: meticulous organisation, adequate introduction, acceptable duration of involvement, provision of a pleasant experience, and meaningful and enriching activities and interactions. The outcome of a wellmaintained and structured Facebook group is the formation of a learning community, where participants are linked and fully engaged, and where knowledge is conveniently and easily accessed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of OpenCourseWare Consortium Global 2014
Subtitle of host publicationOpen Education for a Multicultural World
EditorsColin de la Higuera
Place of PublicationUSA
PublisherOpenCourseWare Consortium
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes
EventOpenCourseWare (OCW) Consortium Global Conference - Ljubljana, Slovenia
Duration: 23 Apr 201425 Apr 2014
Conference number: 10th


ConferenceOpenCourseWare (OCW) Consortium Global Conference
Abbreviated titleOCWC Global 2014

Cite this