Exploring the impact of twitter upon the student nurse journey – developing belonging and engagement

Robert Mapp & Lisa Abbott – Birmingham City University

Short paper

Following on from our SocMedHE 2016 thunderstorm submission which showcased the creation of the @BCUNursingteam twitter page. We have commenced a small scale research project exploring the impact of our twitter account. The emergent success of the @BCUNursingteam is demonstrated with a growing followership of 1500 and over 6000 tweets. Engagement of students, staff, practice partners and employers is evident, with cross inter-professional and inter-university ‘chats’ occurring. We continue to strive to develop a positive culture within the twitter account providing supporting, encouraging nurturing tweets which recognise our students’ achievements and inspire them on their journey. These tweets create a place for sharing placement and academic experiences and the successes and struggles of our students. Responding to these in a positive way appears to build a sense of belonging to BCU and develops social capital within the student body. Furthermore, tweeting at poignant moments within the student journey creates the opportunity for building a social identity with peers as students who have had a shared experience. Involvement between staff and students helps to enhance engagement and foster a sense of belonging, (Thomas, 2012).

Utilising a qualitative approach we will conduct focus groups to explore the experiences of student nurses who engage with twitter. We will explore the key areas of belonging, social capital, employability and the experiences of engaging with Twitter during the student nurse journey at Birmingham City University. Data will be analysed and key themes identified, these will then be used to showcase the impact upon the student journey, with potential themes of belonging, engagement, student support, student satisfaction and retention. The Higher Education Academy project ‘What Works’ emphasised the importance of building student engagement and belonging as a key to reducing attrition and enabling students to be successful (Thomas, 2012).

Student and staff engagement and involvement is a key driver to the success of the twitter page. Partnership working with students has helped to raise the profile of the page and added to its value, therefore the student voice will play a key part in showcasing emergent themes. Arigoni et al (2016), discusses this as one of the major themes of their literature review, that the use of social media to foster a sense of community only works with both staff and student engagement.


Arrigoni, C, Alvaro, R, Vellone, E, & Vanzetta, M. (2016) Social Media and Nurse Education: An Integrative Review of the Literature. J Mass Communication Journalism. 6(1) pp 290-296

Thomas, P (2012) Building student engagement and belonging in Higher Education at a time of change: final report from What Works? Student Retention & Success programme. [pdf] London: Published by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. Available at:



Networking, engagement, retention, Social capital, belonging, increasing connectivity, employability

Relation to the theme

  • engaging, stimulating and challenging learners
  • reaching and engaging different groups of learners
  • building staff and student digital capability and confidence