School of Education


Doctor of Education in Curriculum & Instruction (EdD)


Karla Swafford


social media, middle school, high school, adolescence, school discipline, administrators


Education | Educational Administration and Supervision


The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to understand middle and high school administrators’ perceived influence of social media on school discipline and student behavior in southeastern Virginia. Bandura’s social cognitive theory and Skinner’s behavioral theory of operant conditioning guided this study and provided the theoretical framework for learning through observation and reinforcement. Twelve middle and high school administrators participated in this study and shared their administrative experiences regarding social media and its perceived influence on student discipline and behavior in their respective schools. The central question guiding this research study was the following: What are the experiences of middle and high school administrators as they manage school discipline when student behaviors are influenced by outside interactions on social media? Data collection included interviews, a focus group, and an analysis of current disciplinary policies and procedures. Data analysis followed those procedures outlined in Moustakas’ (1994) guidelines for transcendental phenomenological studies, including using epoche for bracketing, identifying, and coding emergent themes, utilizing textural and structural descriptions, and developing a composite description to derive a universal essence of the shared experiences. The essence of this study revealed the increased usage of social media among adolescents influences their behavior. Both negative and positive behaviors are reinforced through the quantifiability of social media. These behaviors spill into the school environment, affecting discipline at the secondary level. Even without social-media-specific policies to guide them, administrators leverage the code of conduct to teach students about appropriate behavior and effectively address negative behaviors.