Twitter: The Secret to Better Grades?

Technology is slowly making its way into the classroom, with decidedly mixed responses. On the one hand, the wide use of cell phones has led many college professors to ban them outright. Then there’s this study. The Wiley Online Library uncovered a surprising bit of information:

It was found that a group of students using Twitter in and out of the classroom earned higher grades than the group that did not.

Here’s how the study went, from The Chronicle:

A total of 125 first-year pre-health-professional majors participated in the voluntary experiment, in which 70 students were assigned to use Twitter to both access information and complete four class assignments required in a first-year seminar course. The control group of 55 students completed the same tasks on a Web-based program that functioned like a typical course-management system’s discussion board.

At the end of the semester, the 70 tweeters earned, on average, a half a point higher GPA than the non-tweeters. The reason for this outcome is unclear, yet one professor suggests it may have to do with the students’ engagement:

He suggested that Twitter may be able to improve grades because it incorporates a feature into academic study that many students already use in their everyday lives—the “status update” that’s a part of Facebook. He said this familiarity may make students more comfortable in both continuing class discussions outside the classroom, and responding to class material. At the peak of the experiment, occurring three weeks before the end of the semester, the 70 students produced 612 tweets within a single week.

Whatever the reason, something worked. Educators keep finding new, inventive uses for technology in the classroom, and in many cases successfully improving student participation and performance. As we’ve said before, not all education technology should be welcomed into colleges, but it’s hard to argue with student success.

On another Twitter-related note, the word of the year has been chosen by the Oxford University Press USA:


It’s ok, spell-check doesn’t like it either. The word is loosely synonymous with the verb ‘to reject.’ It was famously brought into public conciseness by Sarah Palin in reference to the proposed New York City mosque.

It’s assumed that she unknowingly fused the words ‘refute’ and ‘repudiate,’ somehow landing on a variation that didn’t yet exist in the English language.

Thanks, Twitter.

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