Engage them, and they will learn. That’s the lesson at the core of new research that shows that Twitter is a potentially powerful tool for educators looking to increase student engagement and even their grades.
The research group for this Twitter experiment was admittedly small: 125 students from a first-year pre-health university course over one semester. 70 students were in the Twitter group and 55 students were used as the control.
Researchers measured student engagement at the end of the semester, and found that the Twitter group had a significantly greater increase not only in their engagement with the course material, but in the grade point average as well compared to the control group.
One of the study’s co-authors, Greg Heiberger of South Dakota State University, has this to say about the use of Twitter outside the classroom:
“To some extent, it does add to the faculty member’s level of commitment but it allows for them to leverage technology to directly connect with students throughout the day. Faculty could Tweet five minutes after dinner and answer a couple of quick questions. Communications outside of class, such as these, are important factors in student engagement and success.”
Using Twitter to engage with students outside the classroom might just be the perfect extra-curricular – it’s not overly time consuming for either the professor or the students, it allows group conversations, and it all happens in real time. If students have a question while they’re studying at 6PM, they can float them out there to the class via a Tweet and have a pretty realistic expectation that someone will answer within an hour or two.
You can find the full research article here.