Microblog use and student engagement in the large-classroom setting

Adam K. Saperstein*, Christy J.W. Ledford, Jessica Servey, Lauren A. Cafferty, Stacey H. McClintick, Ethan Bernstein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Encouraging student engagement in the large-classroom setting can be difficult. Challenges include the depersonalized nature of the environment and the fact that students frequently find asking questions and participating in class discussion intimidating. Social media has the potential to address these barriers, but this has not yet been formally evaluated. Our study analyzed the impact of microblog use on students’ question-asking behaviors (an indicator of student engagement) in a large-classroom setting.METHODS: Formative evaluation of a large-classroom medical humanities course identified microblog use as a potential tool to facilitate greater student engagement. A microblog was thereafter incorporated into the course. Student engagement was operationalized as question-asking behaviors before and after microblog incorporation.RESULTS: Paired t tests showed that the total number of questions asked was significantly greater in the microblog-available classes, t (2)=12.12. In addition, significantly more individual students asked questions in the microblog-available classes, t(2)=17.39.CONCLUSIONS: Our study, demonstrating an increase in questionasking behavior after incorporation of a microblog, has important implications for educators who seek to enhance student engagement and learning in the large-classroom setting. In addition, innovative use of emerging technologies (such as microblogs) as educational tools requires continuous assessment and iterative change to maximize benefit. More research is needed to evaluate what specific barriers to engagement are overcome by microblog use and whether microblog use can similarly benefit other courses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)204-209
Number of pages6
JournalFamily Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


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