Twitter use helped students communicate more with their instructors.

Twitter use might be more than an extracurricular activity for college students, according to researchers from three universities whose work suggests that using the popular microblogging service to discuss academics could help bolster student engagement and success.

In an article published in the Journal of Computer Assisted Learning Nov. 12, researchers unveiled findings from a midsized college campus that suggest students who communicated through Twitter during and after class had a GPA of about a half-point higher than students who didn’t use the social media site.

Students who used Twitter also scored higher on a student engagement exam administered at the college, which was unnamed in the article, titled “The Effect of Twitter on College Student Engagement and Grades.”

One-hundred and twenty five students participated in the study; 70 of these students were required to use Twitter for educational purposes, and 55 students were asked to communicate through a traditional learning management system—in this case, Ning.

The group of tweeting students became more active on the social media site as the semester progressed. The group’s number of tweets remained steady—with minor increases during some weeks—until the twelfth week of the semester, when the group pumped out 612 140-character messages to each other and their instructors.

The number of tweets dropped in the final three weeks of the semester, according to the research conducted by Reynol Junco at Lock Haven University, Greg Heiberger at South Dakota State University, and Eric Loken at Pennsylvania State University.

“As there is continuing growth in the use of social media by college students and faculty, it is hoped that this study will motivate further controlled studies of Twitter and other social media to evaluate how emerging technologies can be best used in educational settings” and how educators can better use Web 2.0 technologies in their curriculum, the report said.


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