Students who are social-networking savvy may be ahead of the academic curve.
In a recent study, UF psychology alumnus Reynol Junco found that Twitter increases grade point averages as well as students’ likelihood to stay at a single university until graduation.
The study was performed at Lock Haven University in Pennsylvania, where Junco is an assistant professor.
He took a group of 125 students who did not previously use Twitter from a freshman seminar for pre-health professional majors and split them into two groups, introducing one group to the 140-character world of Twitter.
Junco spoke to other professors about using social media in their classes and found that professors favored Twitter over other networking sites because there was less of a social requirement.
While in these courses, students were able to tweet to complete homework and extra credit assignments.
Junco admitted that he thought Twitter would help students socially but not academically. However, after one semester, students using Twitter had an average grade point average of 2.8 — 0.5 points higher than non-users.
Students were also given a pretest to measure engagement — their level of involvement and attachment to the university — before the Twitter experiment began.
On the post-test, Twitter users showed increased engagement, which Junco said means they are much more committed to the university.
“Engagement is the magic bullet of student success,” Junco said. “You have to engage students early in their college career to keep them connected to the institution and to keep them successful.”
Jessica Annett, a UF English and Spanish senior, said that through Twitter she is exposed to conversational and spontaneous dialogue from Spanish speakers in other countries.
“Things like slang and abbreviations are never taught in classrooms and hard to find if you aren’t immersed in the culture,” she said. “With Twitter, you can be connected to any country just by typing something into a search field.”