Herein, we present data from two studies of Twitter usage in different postsecondary courses with the goal of analyzing the relationships surrounding student engagement and collaboration as they intersect learning outcomes. Study 1 was conducted with 125 students taking a first-year seminar course, half of who were required to use Twitter while the other half used Ning. Study 2 was conducted with 135 students taking a large lecture general education course where Twitter participation was voluntary. Faculty in Study 1 engaged with students on Twitter in activities based on an a priori theoretical model, while faculty in Study 2 only engaged students sporadically on the platform. Qualitative analyses of tweets and quantitative outcomes show that faculty participation on the platform, integration of Twitter into the course based on a theoretically driven pedagogical model and requiring students to use Twitter are essential components of improved outcomes.
What is already known about this topic
- • Student use of social media is integrally related to how students engage the world.
- • Little research exists on how social media use is linked to college student engagement in relation to academic outcomes.
- • One study using a controlled design demonstrated a relationship between Twitter use and student engagement.
What this paper adds
- • An empirical comparison of two ways in which Twitter was differently integrated into college courses.
- • The utilization of quantitative and qualitative data to assess real-world academic outcomes related to Twitter use.
- • Evidence-based best practices for using Twitter in educationally relevant and productive ways.
Implications for practice and/or policy
- • If integrating Twitter in their courses, faculty should require and structure its use along educationally relevant criteria.
- • To achieve the most effective results, faculty should have a theoretically driven pedagogical basis for incorporating Twitter.
- • Faculty should actively engage with students on the platform to obtain maximum benefit.