Computer Mediated Communication: Perceptions of Academic Advisors Regarding Text Messaging in Higher Education

Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)

Committee Chair

Brenda Jones

Committee Member

Patrick Bennett

Committee Member

Yuerong Sweetland


Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) need to stay abreast of advances in communication technologies to be student centric, but institutional adoption of Short Messaging Service (SMS) text varies widely and research on incorporation for advising is limited (Arnold et al., 2020; IPEDS 2020; Santos et al., 2018). This quantitative study explored advisor use and perceptions on values, motives, and institutional support of SMS texting as a communication channel with students and the possible variables impacting those factors. Theoretical concepts in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and adaptive leadership guided the study as well as existing survey research on Computer Mediated Communication (CMC) in higher education (Duran et al., 2005). Survey responses from 402 advisors nationwide were analyzed through descriptive and inferential statistics. SMS use was reported among all genders, experience levels, and programmatic formats and advisors overall had a positive view of the communication channel. Motives for use varied between subgroups within the sample and SMS was predominantly used to gain access to richer mediums. A statistically significant association between learning environment and SMS incorporation indicated that online advisors were more likely to use SMS texting for student communication. A statistically significant difference was also identified between median institutional support scores for SMS users and non-users with the directionality indicating users were more likely from SMS supportive institutions. Furthermore, advisors reported using SMS texting for both transactional and relational communication, even when their institution did not support the channel with training, policies, or technology. The study sheds light on the prevalence of SMS use and calls for leadership to gain greater awareness of their local-level policies, industry-wide practices, and system integrated options in managing the university-to-student connection. For HEIs to enable adaptive advising to experiment with interventions at scale and relationship building in student-centric mediums, it may help to provide the framework conducive to SMS text for supplementing communication. Failing to integrate CMC approaches into an institution’s structural approach to relationship management prevents leaders from evaluating how, or even if, it is improving outcomes (Joslin, 2018). The current study emphasizes how aligning strategy and software with end user needs can help ensure university communication is within the purview of those measuring advisor impact on intended business outcomes like engagement and retention.