Social Media Use As A Third Place For Community College Students With Autism Spectrum Disorder
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Type of WorkText
DepartmentCommunity College Leadership Program
ProgramDoctor of Education
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In recent years, statistics have displayed a consistent increase in the enrollment in college programs of students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The research has explained that ASD college students currently face academic and social barriers as they transition to the college setting. There is reason to believe that the use of online technology, both educationally and in social media might hold potential benefit for such students. In light of this, the purpose of this study is to investigate the experiences of ASD students in face-to-face classes that employ some online technologies and to determine their perceptions of how their experiences impact their academic outcomes. Using the “Social Motivation Theory” and Oldenburg's “Third Places,” 12 ASD college students enrolled in face-to-face courses were interviewed for the study to gain their firsthand experiences on their online social interactions. Through the qualitative thematic analysis of the interviews and using NVivo11 by QSR coding software, it was found that the majority of the participants were open to interacting and getting to know others through various ways of communication. They have recognized that social media is an avenue to communicate with other people but also can be used to manipulate and spread inaccurate information. Finally, their educational experience was enhanced by using “Blackboard” in terms of accessing of school work, homework, and assignments; and connecting with classmates and teachers. Given that there is limited information about the kind of support and assistance required by the ASD college student population, the study provided new insights that may contribute to the literature about the experiences of community college students with ASD. College faculty, student affairs staff, and college administrators can profit from these findings.