Twitter and student engagement: What is the value added?

Dawn Alderson – Swansea University

Research has documented the use of Twitter/micro blogging for student engagement and enhancement in Higher Education (Evans, 2014; Fox & Varadarajan, 2011 and Yakin & Tinmaz, 2013), and identifies features for value-added as a consequence of this type of activity. One specific feature is the creation of an evident and consistent feedback loop (Ebner et al., 2010 and Junco et al., 2013), which can support process-oriented learning due to the transparency of students’ learning and working processes, ‘a constant information flow between students, posted thoughts and information pieces make it possible for users to participate with others in their thinking’ (Ebner et al., 2010, p. 99). Additionally, it can be suggested if students engage in process-oriented learning that also involves opportunities for ‘autonomous active engagement with material in the pursuit of designated goal’ (Kennewell et al., 2000, p25), then reflective activity of this nature is characteristic of metacognition or, some might say thinking about and building on one’s own thoughts. This paper focuses on research that was undertaken by a team of four researchers about student engagement with Twitter during lectures.   The sample included undergraduate, final year students (n=117), and data were collected across two criminology modules whereby each ran for 11-weeks as part of the taught components for the LLB award. Therefore, this presentation aims to disseminate findings that relate to student engagement; particularly the value-added of a constant feedback loop, which can support student reflective activity.   A qualitative methodology was adopted for the research in order to analyse a variety of data sets to establish an emergent theoretical framework. The case study approach (Stake, 1995) acknowledges the need for an established boundary; thus student voice informed the context of the study, which in turn enabled a triangulated approach to support internal and external validity (Denzin, 1978).