Using Facebook to promote deep learning and increase student engagement in the College of Science & Engineering

 Shazia Ahmed  @ShaziaAhmed and Sarah Honeychurch – University of Glasgow

The University of Glasgow operates on a College-entry system. In most cases, first year students study three subjects, which will often span more than one College. There are many advantages to this system such as the opportunity to study new subjects and/or to continue with subjects previously enjoyed.  However, this also means that students often lack a sense of identity or belonging especially as they do not specialise in their chosen degree subject until their Honours years.

Five years ago we instigated and semi-moderated Facebook groups for level 1 Maths and Computing students in the first instance, with the aim of providing a space to encourage interaction and academic dialogue between classmates, senior students and support staff. Students use these groups to share questions with each other, and virtual PAL sessions happen spontaneously. Students also share resources, ask questions about lectures, labs, the university, etc. and generally support each other.

Due to their success more groups have been introduced over the years and we now have groups for the whole College of Science and Engineering. Two years ago, we introduced an Entrants’ group for the College which students are invited to join just prior to starting at the University of Glasgow. They have the opportunity to ‘meet’ and chat with fellow Freshers and members of staff. Senior students join these groups, and their input is invaluable: they answer questions from junior students (which we’re often unable to answer) helping to alleviate concerns from those beginning university, and continuing to help them throughout their university careers.

In this talk, we will discuss the structure of our groups and provide examples of how group members support each other both academically and socially. We will also briefly touch on feedback.