Junco, Heiberger, & Loken (2011). The effect of Twitter on college student engagement and grades.

Junco, R., Heiberger, G., & Loken, E. (2011). The effect of Twitter on college student engagement and grades. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 27(2), 119-132. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2729.2010.00387.x

“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.” (p 119)

“Twitter is more amenable to an ongoing, public dialogue than Facebook because Twitter is primarily a microblogging platform (Ebner, et al. 2010).” (p 120)

[“Student engagement” …]

“Astin defined engagement as ‘the amount of physical and psychological energy that the student devotes to the academic experience’ (Astin 1984, p. 297). … Kuh (2009) emphasizes two major facets: in-class (or academic) engagement and out-of-class engagement in educationally relevant (or co-curricular) activities, both of which are important to student success.” (p 120)

“Chickering and Gamson (1987) …  Later, Chickering and Ehrmann (1996) gave examples of how technology can be used to help implement the seven principles.” (p 120)

[“Social media and student engagement” …]

“… a number of studies have found relationships between technology use and engagement.” (p 120)

[Procedure …]

“During the second week of the semester, the sections in the experimental group received an hour-long training on how to use Twitter.” (p 122)

“… educationally relevant activities: …” … “Continuity for class discussions … Twitter was used to continue conversations begun in class.” … “Giving students a low-stress way to ask questions …” … “Book discussion …” … “Class reminders …” … “Campus event reminders … we used SocialOomph (formerly Tweet-later) to schedule tweet reminders for the entire semester.”… “Providing academic and personal support …” … “Helping students connect with each other and with instructors … ‘cohort effect’ …” … “Organizing service learning projects …” … “Organizing study groups …” … “Optional assignments … tweet two questions … for panelists. … Tweet reactions to their shadowing experience …” … “Required assignments … Students were required to post two tweets and two replies to other students [for reading assignment] … discuss their reactions by posting two tweets and tweeting two responses to other students’ reactions [for video, article reflection] … discuss their service project in the context of their future career.” (p 122-123)

“We collected data on the percentage of students sending tweets and the number of tweets sent by using the Twitter Application Programming Interface.” (p 124)

“Students were also surprisingly comfortable with candid expressions of their feelings and their short-comings … They also engaged in a great deal more cross-communication …” (p 126)

“… forged interpersonal relationships. … happened quickly over Twitter as traditional classroom discussion boundaries did not exist …” (p 126)

“Indeed, student use of Twitter generated more and different types of questions than would have been generated in typical class discussions on the same topic. … Twitter helped students feel more comfortable asking questions they may not be comfortable with asking in class.” (p 127)

“… it was relatively easy to help students create a study group on short notice. … the public nature of Twitter helped students be more comfortable asking each other for help. … Their eagerness to form study groups could be partly because of the fact that their anxieties about the exam were being expressed in a public forum and therefore, they discovered that others felt the same way.” (p 127-128)

“… using Twitter in educationally relevant ways had a positive effect on student engagement …” (p 128)

“… encouraging the use of Twitter for educationally relevant purposes has a positive effect on grades.” (p 128)

“The examination of tweet content shows that students were motivated and engaged with each other.” (p 128)

“Chickering and Gamson’s (1987) seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education … ” … “We improved contact between students and faculty (principle 1) by providing an avenue for contact congruent with their digital lifestyles.” … “… encouraged cooperation among students (principle 2) … ” … “… promoted active learning (principle 3) by helping students relate the course material to their own experiences …” … “Twitter allowed us to provide prompt feedback (principle 4) to students …” … “… maximize time on task (principle 5).” … “We used Twitter to communicate high expectations (principle 6) …” … “… using Twitter showed a respect for diversity (principle 7) … we encouraged students who otherwise may not be active participants in class to participate online.” (p 128-129)

“The use of Twitter also demanded that two of the faculty members involved in this study regularly monitor and participate in the Twitter feed.” (p 129)

“… the use of Twitter created a culture of engagement between students.” (p 129)

[Hawthorne effect?… ]

“… we are unable to tease out how much of the variance in increased student engagement and improved grades is as a result of Twitter and how much is because of a possible orientation of faculty to be more engaged.” (p 130)

Selected references

  • Astin, A. W. (1999). Student involvement: A developmental theory for higher education. Journal of College Student Development, 40(5), 518-29.
  • Chickering, A. W., & Gamson, Z. F. (1987). Seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education. AAHE Bulletin, 3-7.
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