Sunday, October 4, 2015

Research Proposal


The intended purpose of my study is to see how Twitter impacts quiet students. Every classroom has a diverse population of students. There will always be students who dominate the class, students who are extremely quiet, and the other students who fall somewhere in between. The population of my classes is 100% Yup’ik students, and the classes I will focus on have students who are in at least 10th grade. I will focus my study on 9 students who are in the 10th grade. These 9 will be a good mix as 2 tend to be pretty quiet and 2 tend to be pretty loud and overpowering. The 9 I chose are the 9 who are in both classes I will be using for data collection. According to the community of inquiry model, COI, students learn through the interaction of 3 areas: social, cognitive, and teaching presence . According to COI,  “social context greatly affects the nature of learning activities and outcomes” (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2000). In my class I plan to use Twitter to create an environment where students feel comfortable sharing their knowledge with the class, and potentially the world. The question I will base my study around is will Twitter would help shy students to find their voice in the classroom?

Literature Review

Twitter, when intentionally integrated into the classroom, can promote higher engagement of students in the classroom. In a study done by Junco, Heiberger, & Loken (2010) they found that using Twitter heightened engagement, and that the average GPA of those who used Twitter was about 0.5 points higher. They concluded that, “using Twitter in educationally relevant ways can increase student engagement and improve grades.” Another study done 2 years later by Junco, Elavsky, & Heiberger (2012) concluded 3 main ideas from the use of Twitter. The first, is that when students are required to use Twitter there is an increase in student engagement, compared to students who were allowed to make a to choice on whether to use Twitter or not. They also concluded that faculty who engaged their students on Twitter saw a higher level of academic gains in their students. Finally they found “having a theoretical reason to use Twitter and implementing that reason into the course pedagogy will maximize the benefits achieved.” Another study done by Birnholtz, Hancock, & Retelny (2013), found that students were engaged when lecture contained slides with their tweets and 90% recommended it should be used again.

There is not a lot of research completed, right not, because the use of Twitter in education is a fairly new idea. “There is a growing body of scholarly research suggesting that, when used properly, social media can boost both learning outcomes and student engagement. The key phrase in that sentence is ‘when used properly.’ The problem is that research in this area is still relatively limited, and most of what is being done in classrooms is experimental. No one has figured out definitively what does and does not work” (Copeland 2012). It is important to note that not all students are at the same level of understanding in using Twitter. Therefore, one way to effectively use Twitter is to “instruct students in using social media critically and intentionally to optimize learning outcomes” (Abe & Jordan, 2013). In the study done by Copeland (2012), it was noted that students who were reluctant to use Twitter tended to struggle more than those who adopted the use of Twitter.

There are many concerns about using Twitter. A top concern about Twitter, or other social media sites, is that is could distract students from content. (Novak & Cowling, 2010). Another concern is that there could be some disconnect between Twitter and the class itself. “They almost act as two separate parts of class and don’t always connect, it can be confusing at times” (Miami Student, 2013). Instructors could also fear that Twitter might “encourage bad grammar as a result of its 140-character limit, or that it could become time-consuming and addictive (Dunlap, 2009).

There are also many positives noted when Twitter is used effectively. According to Dunlap and Lowenthal, you can get instant answers or feedback (Tweeting, 2009). In another article by Dunlap and Lowenthal, they conclude that interactions on Twitter are more natural and occur quicker than using discussion boards (Instructional, 2009). Something that really intrigues me is that “students are getting the idea that their community of learners can extend outside of the classroom” (Messner, 2009). In the study done by Birnholtz, Hancock, & Retelny (2013), that I mentioned earlier, “students applied course concepts to examples from their lives (2009: 57%; 2010: 68.6%; 2011: 62.6%).” Classroom shyness can be a huge issue, but Twitter may help with that. “Students in another Twitter-friendly classroom at Purdue University agree that digital communication helps overcome the shyness barrier. Studies frequently discover that greater participation translates into better academic performance, motivation, and a likelihood of adopting different points of view, which is why it is so striking that Twitter can foster that type of communication” (Fernstein 2010).

I will be collecting a pre and post survey, tweets sent with #nisbio, and will look at overall student grades. I will be using Twitter in my biology class and not in my physical science class. There are about 20 students in each class. 9 of these students are in both biology and physical science, and I will focus my data collection on these 9 students. For the students using Twitter, I have given them a list of what they can tweet about. They can either post what they learned, ask a question, post a resource (such as a video, article, picture, etc.), tell what they want to learn about next, or anything else related to class. I will separate tweets into 4 categories: learning, questions, resources, and a miscellaneous category for any other comments. I plan to require students to post something before they leave class, as an exit ticket. I will then give bonus points to students who comment on other students posts in a way that is meaningful to the class. I will also allow students to post throughout class as well, but they will only be required to post once each day. At least once a week I would like to include a wordle to further promote discussion, as suggested by Costa, Beham, Reinhard, and Sillaots (2008). According to their research they found that wordles helped provide a quick visualization of the tweets to figure out what was missing from the conversation. It can also be a quick reference for what seemed to be the most important topic for discussion online. In physical science I will be making notes about how many comments these 9 students make in class. Then, I will tally up comments in the 4 categories, used for Twitter, for the 9 students I will be collecting data on. I will focus on one student each day, because this project will be four weeks, I should have 2 days of data for each student.

I also plan to design and administer and pre and post survey. This will help to see if student perception changes over the course of my study. In addition to these 2 sources of data I will also look at student grades compared to the class average to see if there is any difference between the class using Twitter and the other class.

Abe, P., & Jordan, N. (2013). Integrating Social Media Into the Classroom Curriculum. About Campus, 18(1), 16-20.

Birnholtz, J., Hancock, J., & Retelny, D. (2013). Tweeting for Class: Co-Construction as a Means for Engaging Students in Lectures. Retrieved September 23, 2015, from

Copeland, D. (2012, May 2). For Social Media In The Classroom To Work, Instructors Need Best Practices. (USA). Retrieved from

Costa, C., Beham, G., Reinhardt, W., & Sillaots, M. (2008, December). Microblogging in technology enhanced learning: A use-case inspection of PPE summer school 2008. In Proceedings of the 2nd SIRTEL’08 Workshop on Social Information Retrieval for Technology Enhanced Learning Maastricht, Netherlands.

Dunlap, J. C., & Lowenthal, P. R. (2009). Instructional uses of Twitter. The CU online handbook, 45.

Dunlap, J. C., & Lowenthal, P. R. (2009). Tweeting the night away: Using Twitter to enhance social presence. Journal of Information Systems Education,20(2), 129-135.

Ferenstein, G. (2010, Mar 1). How Twitter in the Classroom is Boosting Student Engagement. Retrieved from

Garrison, D., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000). Critical Inquiry in a Text-Based Environment: Computer Conferencing in Higher Education. The Internet and Higher Education, 87-105. Retrieved October 5, 2015, from

Junco, R., Elavsky, C., & Heiberger, G. (2012). Putting twitter to the test: Assessing outcomes for student collaboration, engagement and success. Br J Educ Technol British Journal of Educational Technology,44(2), 273-287.

Junco, R., Heiberger, G., & Loken, E. (2010). The effect of Twitter on college student engagement and grades. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 119-132. Retrieved September 5, 2015, from

Messner, K. (2009). Making a case for Twitter in the classroom. School Library Journal.

Miami Student. (2013, Nov 5). A new way to have #class: Professors incorporate social media in curriculum. The: Miami University (Oxford, OH). Retrieved from

Novak, J., & Cowling, M. (2011). The implementation of social networking as a tool for improving student participation in the classroom. In ISANA International Academy Association Conference Proceedings (Vol. 22, pp. 1-10). Auckland, NZ: ISANA International Education, Inc.

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