Date of Award

Spring 5-2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Cynthia Hoffner

Second Advisor

Jaye Atkinson

Third Advisor

Greg Lisby

Fourth Advisor

Kathryn Fuller-Seeley

Fifth Advisor

Mary Shoffner


This research examined Facebook friendships between college/university instructors and students. Based on the development of instructor-student dual relationships, this study described instructors’ Facebook use with students. This included explanations for allowing/not allowing students, communication with students, and ethical concerns. Rooted in the theories of impression management, self-monitoring and role conflict, plus the concept of ambient awareness, hypotheses predicted relationships between instructors’ individual differences and Facebook use: (1) self-monitoring would be positively related to role conflict; and (2) self-monitoring, (3) role conflict, and (4) ambient awareness would be positively related to instructors’ self-presentation, impression management behaviors, and privacy management. Emails were sent to faculty at 270 colleges/universities throughout the U.S. and 331 instructors completed the online survey. Of these, 56.2% allowed students as friends. Open-ended answers revealed that instructors allowed students as friends to communicate, to facilitate learning about each other, and because it was difficult to decline requests. Some instructors did not allow certain students (e.g., problematic students, undergraduates). They communicated by commenting on and liking posts on students’ pages, and had ethical concerns about negative consequences. Open-ended answers revealed that instructors did not allow students as friends to maintain the professional divide and avoid favoritism, which explained their ethical concerns. Hierarchical regression analyses tested the predicted relationships. Results revealed that self-monitoring approached significance as having a positive relationship with role conflict and a negative relationship with privacy management, but was not related to self-presentation or impression management behaviors. Role conflict was not related to impression management. Awareness of students was positively related to self-presentation and impression management behaviors, but unexpectedly, perception of students’ awareness of instructors was negatively related to privacy management. A partial correlation analysis tested high/low self-monitors separately and not only replicated the results, but also revealed that high self-monitors’ perception of students’ awareness was positively correlated with self-presentation and impression management behaviors. These findings indicate that ambient awareness is related to online communication and should be studied further. This is especially intriguing since the two types of ambient awareness related differently to the three types of impression management studied in this research.

Included in

Communication Commons