Chapter 10: Using Twitter to Promote Classroom and Civic Engagement
Gina Serignese Woodall, Arizona State University and Tara M. Lennon, Arizona State University
How can educators harness social media to promote civic engagement? Over three spring semesters, we conducted a nonequivalent control group design experiment in which one class each semester was required to tweet weekly about the course topics and another class was not. In the third year, we also conducted focus groups about students’ use of social media to obtain and share political information. Preliminary results of the experiment show that the treatment classes had statistically higher political knowledge and political engagement through Twitter compared to the control classes. Preliminary results also suggest some nuanced gender differences in how participants use Twitter. Compared to other social media, such as Facebook, Twitter leans toward more direct, personal—and often confrontational—communication. While female participants used Twitter for political purposes to a greater extent than male students in our study, the gendered impact of the Twitter requirement is not clear. Our focus group discussions further developed some of our findings regarding the factors that motivate students to follow certain types of political social media accounts. By examining students’ motivations and social media behaviors, this chapter contributes to the emerging research on how educators can encourage e-civic engagement habits that foster active citizenship and political knowledge.
About the Authors
Teaching Civic Engagement Across the Disciplines / Copyright ©2017 by the American Political Science Association / pp: 135-150