Academic Excellence in 140 Characters

Posted by reyjunco on November 22, 2010 in Research |

This is a video created by one of my students to summarize the research we conducted on the effects of Twitter on student engagement and grades. The journal article summarizing the study and our findings is available here.

Despite the widespread use of social media by students and its increased use by instructors, very little empirical evidence is available concerning the impact of social media use on student learning and engagement. This paper describes our semester-long experimental study to deter-mine if using Twitter — the microblogging and social networking platform most amenable to ongoing, public dialogue — for educationally relevant purposes can impact college student engagement and grades. A total of 125 students taking a first year seminar course for pre-health professional majors participated in this study (70 in the experimental group and 55 in the control group). With the experimental group, Twitter was used for various types of academic and co-curricular discussions. Engagement was quantified by using a 19-item scale based on the National Survey of Student Engagement. To assess differences in engagement and grades, we used mixed effects analysis of variance (ANOVA) models, with class sections nested within treatment groups. We also conducted content analyses of samples of Twitter exchanges. The ANOVA results showed that the experimental group had a significantly greater increase in engagement than the control group, as well as higher semester grade point averages. Analyses of Twitter communications showed that students and faculty were both highly engaged in the learning process in ways that transcended traditional classroom activities. This study provides experimental evidence that Twitter can be used as an educational tool to help engage students and to mobilize faculty into a more active and participatory role.

Note: Study participant identifying information has been anonymized in this video.

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  • DevonAnderson

    I love the video. Really brings the article from the previous post to life. I can relate to the young man who said that he cannot integrate Facebook into his studies because it is too much of a distraction. I know myself, I use Facebook AS a distraction on purpose to clear my mind when my studies get too intense. Since Twitter is so straight-forward and direct in its purpose, I think it works much better as a social network tool for education.

    Would there be a way, save creating a Facebook account for the students in a course, for Facebook to be used more along the lines that Twitter was for your study? I can imagine there would be, if it was a Facebook account solely for the class, but then you get into the slippery slope of people uploading their personal Facebook accounts into it, and linking it up that way. I just don’t know if Facebook would be as successful as Twitter for educational purposes.


  • Jenn123

    As a young instructor, I feel light years ahead of some of my fellow colleagues when it comes to social networking; however, listening to this video and reading the study, it sparked a desire for me to want to develop the twitter experience for my students. The idea of continuing discussions on twitter and engaging students in assignments through twitter sounds really fun. I know that my students love being on social media sites and the internet in general, so this is just another tool in the tool bag of how to reach out to today’s students.

  • Carroll

    I’ve been pushing my university to become more engaged in social media. Within the last year we created Facebook and Twitter feeds for university and different departments. Recently I been recommending outreach through social media as a recruitment tool and have had some positive responses. Engaging students in the class (particularly freshman) is apparently beneficial to students becoming acclimated to the college environment and I plan to use it more and more in this way.

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