Tweeting Students Earn Higher Grades

students get higer grades with twitterTwitter has entered a number of college lecture halls and shows promise of encouraging higher student grades.  In an experiment conducted at a medium-sized college, results showed that the students who interacted with their professor and the course content via Twitter scored higher grades than those who did not use the tool.

By the semester’s end, grade point averages of the tweeters were, on average, half a point higher than their nontweeting counterparts. In a 19-question student-engagement survey given over the course of the semester, using parameters such as how often students contributed to classroom discussion and interacted with their professor about course material, Twitter users scored higher than non-Twitter users.

Student engagement is one of the most important hallmarks of a quality college education; it is essential to the development of critical-thinking skills, retention of materials and increased maturity. Twitter’s popularity among college students can unlock an exciting new method of classroom participation and also result in higher overall grade point averages.

Twitter can increase participation

Classroom shyness is common and can be deadly to a professor wishing for ongoing student dialogue.  For the introverted students, Twitter in the classroom is an excellent way to participate in class without speaking publicly.  In a class of hundreds, only a fraction of students tend to speak up and voice their ideas and opinions.

A solution to this black hole of silence is to bring Twitter into the lecture hall and invite everyone to tweet questions or comments via their cell phones or laptops.  Instructors and TAs can project the live feed and respond to tweets in real-time, thus leveling the playing field and encouraging input from all students, not just the more vocal ones. The specter of being embarrassed in front of the class is removed, and the increased participation translates into higher student performance and grades.

Increased global awareness and communication

Within and beyond the classroom, Twitter allows students and instructors to bring in participants from around the world into the discussion.  Students broaden their world view and gain exposure to other opinions, viewpoints, cultures and languages.  They can get a global perspective on their topic and gain new insights, resources and information not covered in class.

One potential downside

One downside to Twitter is that information cannot be stored long term, at least not yet.  Its search and archiving are short-lived, as the service was originally intended for brief tweets about day-to-day casual activities.  Students may not be able to access their tweets from the beginning of the course.  Still, this obstacle can be turned into an exciting challenge, as professors and students must now create ways of sharing, saving and archiving their information in other ways.

Conclusion

Although this study was done specifically with college students, clearly Twitter has the potential to be an excellent education tool for all ages.  Smart educators of any grade or subject matter can incorporate tweeting into their curriculum, allowing increased engagement with social media in all areas of education.

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