Fast Company

Can Twitter Make You Smarter?

Can using Twitter make you smarter? A new semester-long study found that college students who used Twitter for educational purposes earned GPAs a half-point higher than a non-tweeting control group.

In a group of 125 students at an anonymous medium-sized public college in the Midwest, 70 students used Twitter to access information and complete class assignments; the remaining 55 students used a more typical Internet-based course-management system and billboard. Not only did the tweeting 70 earn higher GPAs, they also reported much higher levels of engagement. The findings were reported in the Journal of Computer Assisted Learning.

Some early-adopting professors have advocated experimenting with Twitter in the classroom -- "essentially asking students to pass notes during class,” as the Chronicle of Higher Education once put it. This study may vindicate such an approach. But one professor quoted by the Chronicle expressed skepticism that Twitter alone could have led to such a remarkable boost. “I think more could be done to understand the range of ways that the Twitter design can work better in class assignments and collaborative note-taking,” said Dave Parry, a UT Dallas professor who himself has experimented with Twitter in his class.

Meanwhile, to the dismay of more traditional professors, students can point to a new justification for pulling out smartphones in class.

[Image: Andrew Hur]

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5 Comments

  • Bob Jacobson

    This is a joke, right? Please don't tell me it was funded by the NEH.

    Does Twitter make you smarter? If you use it during exams?

  • Jym Allyn

    Does the term "cause and effect" sound familiar?

    People with higher technical (geek) skills are more often likely to use Twitter and therefore also are likely to get higher grades.

    I am sure that if they surveyed sex and drinking attitudes they would find that more sex "contributed" to higher grades and that drinking contributed to more sex.

    Now THAT makes me wish that I was back in college.

  • Loraine Antrim

    Communicating in any collaborative setting tends to be more engaging and at times, more productive. However, whether Twitter activity correlates to higher GPA is a bit suspect. The Study's conclusions are not clearly drawn. The researchers only used "125 students taking a first year seminar course for pre-health professional majors and Twitter was used for various types of academic and co-curricular discussions." Hmmm. From this the researchers drew the conclusion that students' overall GPA went up??? Using social media can be a great way to collaborate and share ideas, but I'll wait for a more definitive study for GPA results. Loraine Antrim Core Ideas Communication

  • Ryan

    I'm working with several college professors on innovative ways to effectively use Twitter in the classroom. This study relied upon @replies, however that presents some problems as not everyone can always see both sides of the conversation.

    If you are interested in how to use Twitter in the classroom, I suggest you give GroupTweet.com a try. If you have any questions feel free to reach out via our support on the website.