November 15, 2010
At time when professors question the role of social media in the classroom, a new report suggested that students who use Twitter both inside and outside the classroom are more engaged with professors and course material and, therefore, earn better grades.
According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, a total of 125 first-year pre-health professional majors participated in the study, entitled The Effect of Twitter on College Student Engagement and Grades. Seventy students were in the experimental group, which used Twitter to access information as well as complete four class assignments. The control group consisted of the remaining 55 students, who completed the same tasks on a Web-based program similar to a course-management system's discussion board.
Inside Higher Ed reported that at the end of the 14-week semester, students in the experimental group had grade point averages half a point higher, on average, than the non-tweeting control group.
Furthermore, ConsumerAffairs.com pointed out that researchers also measured students' engagement using a 19-item questionnaire. The results showed that students--and instructors--who tweeted were more engaged in the learning process, which led researchers to believe that Twitter could be used as an educational tool to help engage students and encourage faculty to have a more active and participatory role.
"It was clear that students were highly engaged with us and with each other on Twitter and that had a significant effect on their overall academic success," said Rey Junco of Lock Haven University, who was one of the authors of the study. Moreover, Inside Higher Ed noted that students continued their discussions even after class ended. "Twitter allowed us to extend conversations in ways that would not have been practical during the hour-long class sessions," wrote the authors.
The report also showed that students not only increased contact with professors, but also with each other. "Indeed, one of the striking effects of having students communicate on Twitter is how they built strong relationships across diverse groups--something that rarely happens with first-year students at this institution," said the authors.
Not all professors were convinced by the results, however. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, Dave Parry, an assistant professor of emerging media at the University of Texas at Dallas, said he has used Twitter in previous courses and questioned whether it could actually improve grades. "I think more could be done to understand the range of ways that the Twitter design can work better in class assignments and collaborative note-taking," he said.
Compiled by CityTownInfo.com Staff
"Harnessing Social Media," insidehighered.com, November 8, 2010, Steve Kolowich
"The Effect of Twitter on College Student Engagement and Grades," Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, November 12, 2010, R. Junco, G. Heiberger, E. Loken
"Tweeting Students Earn Higher Grades Than Others in Classroom Experiment," chronicle.com, November 12, 2010, Paige Chapman
"Twitter Helps College Kids Get Better Grades," ConsumerAffairs.com, November 15, 2010, Sara Huffman