Research Article

Exploring university students’ online self-presentation techniques and self-disclosure behaviors as predictors of staff response

Beatrice Hayes 1 *
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1 Department of Psychology, Royal Holloway, University of London, London, UK* Corresponding Author
Journal of Digital Educational Technology, 4(1), 2024, ep2405,
Published: 30 January 2024
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Online educational platforms (e.g., Microsoft Outlook and Moodle) are integrated within higher education communication. Predominantly aged 18-24 years, university students have only ever known a digitally connected world and communicating online is a core component of their reality. Higher education students and staff are thus regularly communicating online. Online self-presentation techniques and online self-disclosure behaviors are required to communicate online. The online disinhibition effect elevates the risk of over-disclosure. Students may be drawing upon online self-presentation techniques and self-disclosure behaviors to communicate with staff via online educational platforms; this may be useful and result in informative responses from staff, or this could be unsuccessful (particularly if students over-disclose) and result in less informative responses from staff. To explore this, a mixed methods approach has been adopted within this study drawing upon 100 Moodle forum posts and 100 emails between students and staff at one U.K. higher education institution. A deductive thematic analysis identifies occurrences of students online self-presentation techniques and self-disclosure behaviors, and staff’s content disclosure (informativeness of responses). A path analysis then explores the predictive relationship between these components. Findings are the first to highlight that students are indeed utilizing online self-presentation techniques and self-disclosure behaviors via online educational platforms, and that these do predict the informativeness of staff response. Importantly, these findings should be used to support students in how to effectively communicate with staff via online educational platforms, and to educate staff in considerations of how they respond.


Hayes, B. (2024). Exploring university students’ online self-presentation techniques and self-disclosure behaviors as predictors of staff response. Journal of Digital Educational Technology, 4(1), ep2405.


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