This past fall I conducted an action research project that looked at the effect a Facebook Group has on homework completion. What really interested me was whether or not an event posted to the group would help students to remember to do their homework. So for about two months this fall a teacher who has taught for more than 20 years began using a Facebook Group and events with her class to post her homework assignments. All the students were members of the group and would receive notifications when a homework was assigned via an event. The event would then reappear once the deadline approached. I didn’t look at too much as this was my first attempt at action research and I’m all about taking baby steps!
Here are the highlights of what I found:
- Consistency: Due to some unforeseen new initiatives and additional time commitments, consistency was difficult for the instructor. This led the teacher to not use the Facebook Group consistency. 41% of students were unhappy with the lack of Facebook use in the class with 67% wanting more interactions using Facebook. Students stated in the post intervention survey that they wanted to have all their assignments posted to Facebook with additional reminders beyond the event showing up on their homepage. Looking back on the action research, this is truly an important aspect of implementing any innovation. If the innovation is going to succeed, then it has to be used regularly to show that it is an important feature of the course
- Homework completion: As I coded and compiled data, 45% of students indicated that the Facebook Group did help them remember to do their homework more often. This result almost blew me away, because I expected a much lower number due to the inconsistency of use with the Facebook Group and events. According to the teacher in this study, the students responded well to the Facebook Group and knew where to look for their homework when it was used, leading me to believe Facebook can be used effectively in education.
- Beneficial tool: When asked if Facebook was a beneficial tool, both the students and their instructor felt it was a useful tool. However, the usefulness of a tool alone will not be enough to motivate students to complete their work. This is sometimes forgotten when technology is introduced into the learning environment. While there may be value to using a tool or even a set of tools, if the underlying assignment isn’t engaging or fails to motivate students, then the impact of that tool on student achievement will be minimal at best. The problem this action research sought to address was the lack of homework completion students in a history course had. Going in, my assumption was that no matter how much we remind students to do their homework, if they aren’t motivated to do the task or if they don’t see the value in the task, then most likely they won’t do it. I think this action research helped point to that as only about a third of students flet they were more accountable for completing their homework because it was posted to Facebook.
Looking at where I could go with this, I think the next step for me is to expand the number of items I want to investigate with Facebook. Homework completion is certainly an important topic, but there has to be a deeper look at the potentials of Facebook. Sure many of us have our opinions of what Facebook can provide, but until we actually research and examine closely the effects on X due to the use of Facebook will we really know what Facebook can provide. Opinion only goes so far until research is needed to convince others this is something we should be excited and advocating about.
Facebook, and more broadly social networking software, is something I truly believe can make a meaningful impact in education, but I want to put it to the test. I want to additional rounds of research on Facebook, so if there is anyone interested in examining how Facebook can impact an aspect of your student’s education let me know. I need a partner teacher or teachers to work with me to implement further research.
If you are interested in reading the entire action research, click here: http://bit.ly/gOuxX0