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Title: Online public engagement in higher education : studying the perspectives of academics and the public
Authors: Dermentzi, Eleni
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: The need for universities to connect with local communities and to make research relevant to the public has been highlighted over recent years through the debate about public engagement. While public engagement has been accepted as an idea by academia and justified by funding and assessment bodies, its effective implementation is still in its infancy for most universities around the world. At the same time, the Internet and its applications have made it possible for universities and academics to engage with the public in an easier and more effective way. The objective of this doctoral work is to study the use of online technologies by academics and the public in order to engage with each other, or in other words, online public engagement. Three surveys were conducted as part of this thesis, each of them looking at a different perspective on the topic under examination. The first survey, which used the Decomposed Theory of Planned Behaviour and the Uses & Gratifications Theory, focused on the use of online technologies for academic engagement, taking into consideration both users and non-users of online technologies. The second survey used the same research framework as the first, but it focused on why academics may be interested in using online technologies for engaging with the public. The final survey, which used the extended Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology, focused on the public and more specifically on the factors that affect the public’s intention to engage with academics via online technologies. Structural Equation Modelling was used in all the three cases for the data analysis. Results suggest that although academics seem to use online technologies for both academic and public engagement, the latter use probably takes the form of a one-way communication as the most influential factors of attitude when it comes to engaging with the public are image and information seeking rather than networking. Similarly, the public seems to have a rather passive role in the public engagement process as the most important factor of their intentions to engage with academia online is habit. The thesis’s theoretical implications stem not only from the fact that it contributes to the knowledge about public engagement, but also from testing two relatively new IT adoption theories, namely Decomposed TPB and UTAUT2, in a new context. As far as the practical implications are concerned, universities and funding bodies can use the results in order to plan and launch more effective public engagement campaigns, while providers of online platforms that are interested in attracting users from academia can form more direct marketing approaches.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:Newcastle University Business School

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