Relationship between class size and active twitter participation in the engineering classroom
Berg, Devin R., 1986-
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The use of Twitter in the higher education classroom has expanded in recent years as educators come to realize the benefits of social media use as a tool for inter-student communication.Further benefits have been found in relation to asking students to communicate the content of a given course to a broader, general public audience. However, at the same time it can be a challenge to promote active participation in this sort of activity due to students? apprehension about putting themselves out there and being wrong. One hypothesis is that this can be overcome by employing a larger cohort of participants thus creating a sense of anonymity through presence within a large population. Further, the use of a larger participant pool increases the odds of it containing students who are willing to drive the online classroom discussion through their participation. It is expected that the presence of such individuals lowers the barrier to entry for the rest of the students.These questions were explored over a multi-semester study of student participation in directed Twitter discussions within an engineering mechanics classroom. First, a small cohort of students was used and later the same study was conducted with a large cohort of students. Comparisons will be made between these two cohorts on the basis of active engagement in the assigned tasks,course performance, and student perception of the tasks.As part of the study, students were tasked with applying the principles of fundamental engineering analysis to objects found in their normal surroundings over the course of the semester. By asking students to complete assignments where they had to apply engineering analysis to an everyday object, it was intended for the student to look beyond their textbook and relate the course material to their surroundings. Similar work by others has demonstrated success in getting students to make the connection between the classroom and the ?real world?.The deliverables for these assignments consist of either a photograph, video, or written description of an object or event that demonstrates the concepts relevant to the week?s course material. Examples of students? work will be presented along with discussion of lessons learned and recommendations for the use of this method in the future. Evaluation of student learning outcomes will be conducted through the issuance of pre- and post-assessments using the Concept Assessment Tool for Statics as well as performance on course examinations. Comparisons will be made between the small cohort and large cohort groups.