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Deagle earns doctorate in education from Northeastern University

Sep 19, 2018

by Jayda Barnes '20

Assistant Director of Student Success and Advising, Sarah Deagle, earned her doctorate in Education from Northeastern University, concentrating in Higher Education Administration. Her dissertation, “Social Media and the First-Year Student at a Private Liberal Arts College,” examines the way in which Generation Z students perceive the role of social media in their experiences and identity development during their first year of college. She hopes her findings can help “Administrators understand how our students are using social media since it won’t be going away anytime soon.”

Sarah Deagle headshot

For her research, Deagle interviewed eleven volunteers from Flagler’s freshmen class of 2021 during the spring 2018 semester. Of her observations, some aligned with trends she had already noticed. For instance, the students all seemed to agree that “No one uses Facebook,” which explained the subsequent decrease in participation in the Class of 2022 Facebook group. Most Generation Z students have gravitated toward Instagram and Snapchat due to its “Mostly original visual content and the ability to share things quick.” One point from her dissertation notes that, although students are on their phones often, they “Aren’t actually absorbing what they are doing or actively participating.” Many times, students only have social media “Because their friends do,” and they want to feel included.

Despite the potential generational disconnect, Deagle believes faculty and staff must accept the presence of social media and “Work towards more of a win-win for everyone.” Many participants expressed interest in having more in-person interactions but admitted to not knowing how to initiate one. Faculty and staff have the opportunity to act as a bridge between digital life and reality by both adapting to the “Preferred methods of communication” and also giving students the chance to “Take a break from the technology,” creating a compromise between generations.


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