Rethinking Twitter: Unique Characteristics of Twitter Render It an Instructional Asset

Rethinking Twitter: Unique Characteristics of Twitter Render It an Instructional Asset

Armand A. Buzzelli (Robert Morris University, USA), Gregory Holdan (Robert Morris University, USA), Allen R. Lias (Robert Morris University, USA), Daniel R. Rota (Robert Morris University, USA) and Trebor Z. Evans (Robert Morris University, USA)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7010-3.ch010
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Despite being more widely known for its contributions to pop culture, and more recently political news and events, a growing body of literature exists about Twitter's use in education. This chapter presents a framework for using Twitter as an instructional review tool, leveraging its timely, unique, and efficient communication style while incorporating theories of memory and cognitive psychology that are more than two centuries old. The authors present applied practice study examples of how Twitter may be used as a means for distributed practice in learning concepts. While practitioners may be concerned about student adoption of Twitter, research presented in this chapter reports that Twitter is user-friendly and is most engaging for students when an instructor frequently participates.
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Studies that date back to over 130 years ago in the fields of psychology and education have examined the effects of spacing the study of concepts versus providing comprehensive information at one time. German psychologist Herman Ebbinghaus (1885) studied memory and practice effect by testing subjects on their recall of nonsense syllables. Chief among his conclusions was the formation of a concept called serial position effect, which included recency and primacy. The recency effect describes the increased recall of the most recent information because it is still in the short-term memory. The primacy effect causes better memory of the first items in a list due to increased rehearsal and commitment to long-term memory. While the definition of spaced versus massed practice is subjective, Underwood (1961) determined that spaced practice occurred when trial intervals are greater than fifteen seconds; massed practice (MP), when intervals are two to eight seconds.

Dempster (1989) found that “spacing effects can best be understood in terms of the ‘accessibility’ hypothesis, and that spaced repetitions have considerable potential for improving classroom learning” (p. 309). The accessibility hypothesis states that memory will be accurate when the ease of accessibility is correlated with memory behavior; however, if the ease of processing is not correlated with memory in a given task, then the judgments will not be accurate (Schwartz, 1994). The theory dates back to studies conducted by Tulving and Pearlstone (1966) that worked with cued recall. Their study demonstrated that subjects who were non-cued had information reach their memory stage but not their retrieval stage in contrast to those who received spaced cues.

Studies by Estes (1955), Glenberg (1979), Raaijmakers (2003), and Pavlik and Anderson (2005) found that by increasing the spacing of practice, subjects had improved recall. Likewise, Bahrick (1979) found that when spacing was moved closer together the recall of subjects worsened. This research suggests that the timing of reviews by instructors should be spaced increasingly further apart to improve performance.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Inter-Study Interval (ISI): The interval separating different study episodes of the same materials.

Concept Learning: The search for and listing of attributes that can be used to distinguish exemplars from non-exemplars of various categories.

Massed Practice (MP): This effect occurs when the material to be learned is presented repeatedly in a short period of time.

Hashtag (#): The # symbol is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users.

Twitter: An information network made up of 140-character messages from all over the world.

Re-Tweet: A Tweet by another user, forwarded to you by someone you follow. Often used to spread news or share valuable findings on Twitter. Or the act of forwarding another user's Tweet to all of your followers.

Distributed Practice (DP): The search for and listing of attributes that can be used to distinguish exemplars from non-exemplars of various categories. Used interchangeably with spaced practice.

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