Effective Text Communication During a Campus Crisis

Open Access
Anderson, Lauren C
Graduate Program:
Information Sciences and Technology
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
March 01, 2017
Committee Members:
  • Edward J. Glantz, Thesis Advisor
  • Peter K. Forster, Committee Member
  • Andrea H. Tapia, Committee Member
  • crisis
  • text
  • crisis communication
  • emergency
  • campus
  • social media
This research focuses on media, particularly text messages and social media, during campus crises in hopes to better understand and improve communication methods and validate information for emergency management (EM) departments. The focus of this research includes where campus students, faculty, and staff physically go to once an emergency text alert is sent across to the campus. An additional research question includes who whom people confirm information, or where and with whom do people validate the information in the emergency text notification. Through a review of previous research, it was found that a gap exists in measuring the effectiveness of emergency text alerts at university campuses during an emergency crisis. To further investigate this gap, data was collected using two methods: semi-structured interviews and a survey. The semi-structured interviews were used to gather information to help guide the development of the survey in regards to the needs of emergency management departments. The survey was distributed to students, faculty, and staff of The Pennsylvania State University. Findings indicate the kind of actions taken when receiving an emergency text alert during a campus crisis situation and what external resources are used to validate the alert information. Additionally, social media preferences were surveyed to help understand which social media outlets could help in emergency management. This research is important for understanding the effectiveness of current strategies for emergency management departments on a university campus. However, the research will be able to extend to many mass-gatherings in the world, like sporting or political events.