Using social media as a strategy to address 'sophomore slump' in second year nursing students: A qualitative study

Marion Tower, Eddie Blacklock, Bernadette Maria Watson, Catherine Heffernan, Glenyss Tronoff

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: An important contributing factor to the shortfall in the nursing workforce is the high attrition rate of students from nursing programmes. Recently, researchers have begun to examine the 'sophomore slump' phenomenon, related to students' sense of low self-efficacy associated with learning in their second year of study, that may be related to attrition. Background: Academic success is heavily influenced by self-efficacy, or a student's belief in their ability to be successful. Strategies that enhance self-efficacy include peer learning, which increases students' engagement and reinforces self-regulated learning. Social networking sites such as Facebook provide students the opportunity to take part in peer learning and may promote students' self-efficacy. Aim: The aim of the study was to develop a Facebook forum that utilised peer learning, to build self-efficacy related to learning, of students commencing into the second year of a three year nursing programme. Methods: Students commencing into year two of a Bachelor of Nursing programme were invited to join a Facebook forum to support their study. One hundred and ninety-eight students accepted the invitation. Data was collected over a twelve-week period. Text from the Facebook forum was downloaded and analysed thematically. Findings: Analysis suggests that Facebook forums may be a useful peer learning strategy to build students' self-efficacy related to study in the second year of nursing study. Students shared mastery experiences, provided modelling experiences, and used verbal persuasion to reframe problems which suggested that it helped build students' self-efficacy, and alleviated some of the physiological response associated with stress. Conclusion: The findings suggest that social media platforms are important tools by which students can engage in peer learning to build self-efficacy around their nursing studies. This may in part help address the 'sophomore slump' phenomenon, enhance students' learning experiences more widely, and impact on students' decisions to remain in nursing programmes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1130-1134
Number of pages5
JournalNurse Education Today
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Nursing student retention
  • Peer learning
  • Self-efficacy in learning
  • Social media for learning
  • Sophomore slump

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing
  • Education


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