Into the Tangled Web: K-12 Educators, Free Speech Rights, and Social Media
John David Andrews, Virginia Commonwealth University, United States
Virginia Commonwealth University . Awarded
Much attention has recently been given to K-12 educators and their use of social media. This quantitative study surveyed a targeted sample (n = 543) of known social media users to learn about K-12 educators' use of social media, their legal knowledge of the First Amendment as it relates to free speech and education, and their dispositions toward the First Amendment. Survey respondents self-reported levels of social media use, completed a legal knowledge section, and responded to a series of items used to gauge their disposition toward the First Amendment. These were analyzed through various demographic and contextual factors in addition to analyses of variance, correlations, and a regression analysis. Findings identified a critical mass of K-12 educators are using social media, and some use social media to a great degree. This sample also reported an overall lack of legal knowledge of the First Amendment as it relates to free speech and education. Additionally, whether or not one had been questioned or chastised about his or her social media use, whether or not one worked for an administration that was "extremely supportive" of social media use, whether or not one had administrative responsibilities, and one's disposition toward the First Amendment were significant predictors of social media use for the educators in this sample. Findings in this study suggest schools should train and use administrators to educate their K-12 employees about social media use, the First Amendment, and related school policies. Additionally, school policies should not focus on social media use; instead, they should address particular behaviors. Finally, schools intending to embrace social media should seek to employ administrators who are "extremely supportive" of social media use.
Andrews, J.D. Into the Tangled Web: K-12 Educators, Free Speech Rights, and Social Media. Ph.D. thesis, Virginia Commonwealth University.
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