How Social Media Usage Affects Academic Performance

A Q&A with a UCIPT Postdoctoral Researcher

Based on social media activity, what percentage of UCLA students are at risk of failing their classes?

We currently do not have the ability to only use social media data to determine the percentage of UCLA students who are at risk for failing their classes. I think social media can be a good tool to understand people’s overall attitudes (i.e., via sentiment analysis) and popular topics people are talking about (i.e., via keywords searches), but we would need to combine other data sources (e.g., hours spend doing homework, SAT scores) with social media data to create prediction models for student school performances.

Is there any evidence of favoritism or preferential grading given to students who tweet to their professors?

We have not studied this topic before. Preferential grading is not something that education institutes or professors should be doing, obviously. Social media platforms such as Twitter can promote collaboration and learning, and they are a great way for students to engage with each other and their professors. Studies have reported that social media technology can be an effective tool to help promote discussion and classroom engagement.

What social media tools exist for professors to determine if a student has cheated on a test or plagiarized a paper?

There are currently no social media tools to determine if a student has cheated on a test or plagiarized content. I think it would be extremely hard to discover this sort of behavior unless a student confessed to having done so on social media. However, there are several existing web services that check for plagiarizing (e.g., when students submit their academic papers.

According to Twitter sentiment analysis, which are the most and least popular undergraduate courses at UCLA?

Based on our content analysis, a lot of students have expressed frustration toward math- and chemistry-related classes. However, this does not mean that these are the least popular undergraduate courses at UCLA. Currently, Bruinwalk allows students to view the most and least popular undergraduate courses at UCLA, along with reviews for professors.

Which UCLA professors are most adept at communicating with their students on Twitter? Is there one that you feel uses social media as a tool to be emulated?

There are a few professors that have incorporated Twitter as part of the coursework. For example, Professor Jerome Camal is using Twitter and Spotify in his Music History course. Other professors from other institutions have also attempted to use Twitter as a bulletin board for ambient office hours and assignment coordination. You can read about various examples here. I think any of the examples provided can be emulated as long as Twitter helps enhance the student learning experience.

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