Friday, April 8, 2011

Study suggests that undergrad students want to make personal connections with their profs through Twitter.

I don't Tweet and have no plans to start (it's good for marketing and reporting on political insurrections but other than that, who has time?) but maybe this will give you the impetus to start. From the Chronicle of Higher Ed:

Kirsten A. Johnson [an assistant professor in communications at Elizabethtown College] always wondered whether her personal posts on Twitter, Facebook, and other social-networking Web sites affected her credibility in the eyes of her students.

[She] designed an experiment for 120 students at the college and has just reported the results. It turns out that professors with personal Twitter streams appear to be more credible than those who stick to business. The study, co-authored with Jamie Bartolino, one of her students, appears in the most recent issue of Learning, Media and Technology.

The researchers created three accounts on Twitter for three fictional “professors” named Caitlin Milton, Caitlyn Milton, and Katelyn Milton. One account was filled personal tweets (“Feeling good after an early morning swim at the rec center”), the second with scholarly ones (“Working on a study about how social-networking sites can be used in educational settings.”), and the third with a combination.

To Ms. Johnson’s surprise, when the students were surveyed, they rated the personal professor the highest on measures of competence, trustworthiness, and caring—which adds up to credibility.

Ms. Johnson thinks this might be, in part, because students could find a professor who tweets personal items to be more caring. The experiment was conducted among students at Elizabethtown, a small, liberal-arts college in Pennsylvania, where, she says, students strive to forge relationships with their professors.

“I think that students, particularly undergraduate students, want to make a connection with their professors that goes beyond knowledge,” she says.

You can read the rest here.


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