Exploring the Utility of Microblogging as a Tool for Formal Content-Based Learning in the Community College History Classroom




Freels, Jeffrey William

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The emergence of social media technologies (SMT) as important features of life in the twenty-first century has aroused the curiosity of teachers and scholars in higher education and given rise to numerous experiments using SMT as tools of instruction in college and university classrooms. A body of research has emerged from those experiments which suggests that SMT may be useful in promoting student learning and improving academic outcomes. However, as of yet the evidence from that research is scant and inconclusive. The study described here was designed to contribute to that body of research by investigating whether or not requiring students to use a microblog–Twitter in this case—in a community college history course would help students display higher levels of attainment of content-based course learning outcomes on traditional types of assessments. Student activity on Twitter and performance on traditional types of assessments were quantitatively tracked and evaluated according to a number of specialized rubrics, the results of which were integrated into a series of hierarchical regression analyses. Qualitative data was also collected in the form of open-ended questionnaires in order to provide insight into how students perceived of and used Twitter as an instructional tool. Data obtained through both methodologies were integrated into the final analysis. The results of this study suggest that microblogs can be an effective platform for teaching and learning when the instructor is experienced in the use of the medium, deliberate in how it is used, and highly engaged during use.



Educational technology, Community college education, Pedagogy, Community college, Educational technology, Microblogging, Pedagogy, Social media