Social Media and Centennials in the Classroom

Concurrent Session 1

Brief Abstract

This session will provide results of a case study exploring the use of social media tools such as Instagram and SnapChat in the online classroom. Results of interviews, surveys and observations will be presented.  Models will be presented for discussion as well.  The future of social media use in the classroom with the Centennial population will be discussed. 


Sue McGorry is Assistant Provost and Professor of Business at DeSales University in Pennsylvania. Prior to her appointment at DeSales, McGorry held positions with Chase Manhattan Bank, AT&T and UNESCO in France. Her professional memberships include the American Marketing Association (faculty advisor for the DeSales chapter), the Atlantic Marketing Association, the Marketing Science Institute, and the Association of Collegiate Marketing Educators. Professor McGorry teaches Marketing Research, Data Mining, Healthcare Marketing and Services Marketing. She has managed numerous service learning initiatives at DeSales University in both undergraduate and graduate programs. McGorry's research interests include eservice learning, service quality in healthcare and education, measurement, service learning and technology in marketing and education. McGorry serves on the board of The Eastern Pennsylvania Down Syndrome Center and Lehigh Valley Hospital's Institutional Review Board. She has authored a variety of articles and publications. McGorry earned the MBA and Ph.D. in Marketing and Applied Social Research from Lehigh University and has completed post-doctoral work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She has been teaching online for over 20 years.

Extended Abstract

Social Media and Centennials in the Classroom

Sue Y. McGorry, MBA, PhD


Millenials have been the focus of much attention from a demographic, business, and education perspective for the last decade and rightfully so.   Millennials are not only the largest generation in U.S. and world history, they command tremendous wallet power as well. They spend $200 billion annually and most likely will spend $10 trillion over their lifetimes (Fromm, 2016).

Individuals born between 1997 and 2015 fall in to a new demographic labeled the Centennials or Gen Zers, iGens, or Founders.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Centennials account for almost 26% of the population in America and comprise the largest percentage of the United States population.  Why are they worth paying attention to?  This group easily contributes $44 billion to the American economy, and by 2020, they will account for one-third of the U.S. population (Vespa, 2017).

As the Centennials differ from Millenials in a myriad of ways, this impacts their use of technology and how they acquire information.  Post secondary educators must explore ways to engage and motivate these learners in their classrooms whether online or in a traditional classroom setting.  Researchers have identified favorite forms of social media for Centennials:  Instagram and SnapChat top the list (McGorry and McGorry, 2018; Contreras, C., 2017).  This study will explore methods to apply these and other social media tools in the higher ed classroom.

Some instructors have incorporated social media into their courses to engage students. Others are reluctant to embrace social media, citing privacy concerns, social media being more of a distraction than a useful tool, and the challenge of keeping up with social media developments, among others (Abdullah, 2017(a); Abdullah 2017 (b)).  Indeed, social media may create new opportunities to engage students, however, the type of tools and the methods by which these tools are introduced may play a significant role in their efficacy (Lumby, Anderson and Hugman, 2014).   Most of the existing research on the utility and effectiveness of social media in the higher education class is limited to self-reported data (e.g., surveys, questionnaires) and content analyses  (Tess, 2013).   This will be one of the first studies to apply and measure the efficacy of social media applications to the classroom.

Data will be collected from 32 students during eight weeks of the fall semester during which time the students will be required to use a variety of social media tools in order to complete course requirements in an undergraduate Principles of Marketing course.  Interviews, observations as well as survey research will be used to explore students’ learning and perceptions of social media in the classroom. 

Models will be presented with examples.  Results will be explored, and outcomes as well as recommendations for future research will be discussed.




Abdullah Al-Bahrani, Darshak Patel, Brandon J. Sheridan. (2017a) Evaluating Twitter and its impact on student learning in principles of economics courses. The Journal of Economic Education 48:4, pages 243-253. 

Abdullah Al-Bahrani, Darshak Patel, Brandon J. Sheridan. (2017b) Have economic educators embraced social media as a teaching tool?The Journal of Economic Education 48:1, pages 45-50.

Contreras, C.  (2017).  7 Ways to Engage Gen Z on Social Media in 2018.  Social Media Week.

Fromm, J.  ( 2016, Dec).  What Marketers Need To Know About Social Media And Gen Z  Forbes December.  Retrieved from

Lumby, C., Anderson, N., & Hugman, S. (2014). Apres Le Deluge: social media in learning and teaching. Journal of International Communication20(2), 119-132.

McGorry, S. and M. McGorry (2018).  Snap, Insta and YouTube :  Can We Learn Something from the Centennials?! A Paper presented at Online Learning Consortium Innovate 2018. Conference Proceedings. Nashville, TN.

Tess, P. A. (2013). The role of social media in higher education classes (real and virtual)–A literature review. Computers in Human Behavior29(5), A60-A68.

Vespa, J. (2017).  The Changing Economics and Demographics of Young Adulthood: 1975–2016.  Retrieved from