"A Facebook group extends the classroom in time and space, Dougherty said."
New York, April 29 - Facebook may not be all that bad for your kids. According to a study, university students who used a Facebook group as part of a large sociology class did better on course assignments and felt a stronger sense of belonging.
Although some teachers may worry that social media distracts students from legitimate learning, we found that our Facebook group helped transform students from anonymous spectators into a community of active learners, explained Kevin Dougherty, an associate professor of sociology at Baylor University's college of arts and sciences.
The study has implications for the challenge of teaching large classes - a matter of growing concern for higher education, Brita Andercheck, a doctoral candidate in sociology at Baylor University, added.
The Baylor research focused on a class of 218 students in an introductory sociology class.
Students who participated in the Facebook group scored higher on quizzes, wrote stronger papers and did better on exams than classmates who did not take part, the study reported.
Both students and teaching staff provided a steady stream of content to the Facebook group.
Teaching staff posted discussion questions, links to relevant online material and photos and videos of in-class events such as guest lectures and themed skits.
Students, meanwhile, posted their own photos and videos related to course concepts, engaged in discussions and sought solutions to questions and problems.
Again and again, we saw students helping one another on the Facebook group, Dougherty noted.
As final exams approached, students were especially helpful to each other, swapping definitions and examples and organising informal study sessions.
A Facebook group extends the classroom in time and space, Dougherty said.
It allows students to interact with one another and with the subject matter wherever and whenever they choose. It makes them more active learners, he concluded in the study published in the journal Teaching Sociology.