SXSW Panel Recap: Using Twitter to Improve College Student Engagement
It's day two of SXSW Interactive, and I hopped into a session led by Ray Junco on college student engagement, particularly using Twitter to engage college students. The following is a recap of this session.
In the beginning of the session, Junco shared how students are happier and perform better than other students who are less engaged. This inspired him to see if social media could be used by teachers to generate more engaged students.
Using NSSE, a National Survey of Student Engagement, Junco made a 19 item engagement scale to uncover more about the role of Twitter in the educational environment.
Twitter: Study #1
Junco noted that although Twitter penetration in overall population is not that of Facebook - college faculty have been much more interested in integrating Twitter into their classrooms than Facebook. This said, he set out to find answers to the following questions:
- Does using Twitter in educationally relevant ways have an effect on student engagement?
- Does using Twitter in educationally relevant ways have an effect on first semester grades?
Through this particular study, Junco used a control group using Ning to engage students, versus an experimental group using Twitter. Both groups used their respective platforms in the classroom in the following ways:
- Continuity for class discussions
- Low stress way to ask questions
- Discussion of common reading
- Class reminders
- Campus event reminders
- Helping students connect with each other and instructors
- Organizing service learning project
- Organizing study groups
Results: Students on Twitter engaged more than the control group, and also increased the amount of teacher engagement with the students. Additionally, the Twitter group had over a half point more GPA in first semester grades.
Twitter: Study #2
In this study, Junco allowed students to self select whether or not they used Twitter to engage in the classroom. This naturally selected the classroom into two equally size groups for the study. In this study design there was no assignment, no control group, and no direct encouragement to use Twitter.
Results: Although on the surface it appeared to have some degree of engagement, there was no real effect in overall engagement.
Implication: Junco noted, "If you leave student to their own devices, they will use social properties that are useful or detrimental to them. If you integrate into the classroom, you can engage with students and actually have an impact on grades."
Junco summed up the presentation with the following best practices for teachers who may integrate Twitter in the classroom.
- Engage with students
- Integrate course content
- Encourage collaborative learning
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