“Tweet tweet”: Evaluating applied social care student opinions of engaging through Twitter with contemporary research and debate
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When developing engaging pedagogical approaches underpinned by the effective use of technology, having students engage with academic material while on social media presents itself as a worthwhile area of investigation. This study predominantly evaluates the effective development and use of a Twitter account specific to concepts and ideas of psychology on a degree in Applied Social Care. Student engagement via Twitter with current research and contemporary debate is assessed, with an exploration of how to effectively use Twitter with undergraduate students and concluding with a reflection on developing a ‘resident’ presence online. The @psycarlow Twitter account was set up in September 2018, to use with groups of students from year 3 and year 4. Following one full academic year, one group of students was surveyed on its usefulness; a second group was surveyed following a year and a half of interacting with the account. Feedback and suggestions from the first group, together with experience gained and reflection by the lecturer, were extremely beneficial in moderating the approach with the second group. Findings indicate that both sets of students identified a number of positive benefits including helping them understand topics discussed in class and giving them a societal view of relevant issues through current research, debates and conversations. The second group had a much stronger identification with positive benefits, the reasons for which are discussed. Students also identified a number of ways in which engagement could be improved, for example by more clearly identifying to students which tweets were relevant to them. Getting to grips with managing the account and directing students to content is initially time consuming but using Twitter has proven a useful and effective way of engaging students, with positive impacts on their learning and digital literacy.
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