Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Psychology and Special Education

First Advisor

Daphne Greenberg

Second Advisor

Hongli Li

Third Advisor

Ann Kruger

Fourth Advisor

Michael Eriksen


The college alcohol culture glorifies high-risk drinking while minimizing potential negative consequences. A social ecological framework can be used to understand the college alcohol culture in institutions of higher education (IHEs) because the framework provides a synergistic tapestry of multiple factors such as: individual, institutional, and environmental. The role of social media is important to explore as social media has created a new frontier for college students to navigate throughout their college experience. The social ecological framework was used as a guide for this study; to explore the college alcohol culture within social media, specifically Twitter. The tweets in IHE hashtags provided a unique opportunity to simultaneously examine individual, institutional, and environmental factors. The publicly available tweets were retrieved during a college football season because of the growing trend of alcohol sales at college football stadiums. The sample included the IHEs represented in the 2014 football tournaments: Historically Black College and University (HBCUs) Classics, the College Football Bowl, along with the National College Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II and III Football Championships. Tweets found in the identified IHE hashtags were used to examine the frequency of alcohol reference terms along with the association to institutional and environmental factors of the college alcohol culture. A quantitative research design was employed, using factor analyses and hierarchical linear modeling. The factors examined in this study included: individual (i.e., alcohol related risk and protective behaviors), institutional (i.e., size of the student population, the NCAA division, and the HBCU affiliation), and environmental (i.e., alcohol sales, availability, and advertising). The majority of the identified IHE hashtags had at least one alcohol reference term in the tweets. Most of the tweets referenced a type of alcohol; beer was the alcohol reference term found most often in the tweets of the identified IHE hashtags. Institutional factors accounted for some of the difference in the frequency of terms. The environmental factor of alcohol sales during football games did not account for a significant amount of variance among the frequency of alcohol terms in the hashtags. Future research and implications for practice are discussed.