Deviating From the Traditional Instructional Tools: Integrating Twitter in a Sociology of Deviance Course | S’éloigner des outils pédagogiques traditionnels : intégrer Twitter dans un cours sur la sociologie de la deviance


  • Adrienne M.F. Peters Memorial University of Newfoundland
  • Jane Costello Memorial University of Newfoundland
  • Daph Crane Memorial University of Newfoundland



Twitter, online learning, class engagement, assessment, sense of community


As the use of social media in post-secondary education expands, so does the research literature examining its effectiveness in engaging students. Studies have examined the use of Twitter as an assessment and engagement tool, and since this is a broad and growing research area, better understanding whether Twitter can promote these outcomes in an upper-level university course is valuable. This paper explores these themes based on a student survey (N=37) conducted in a Sociology Deviance course. It also reviews how students responded to the use of Twitter as a “community-classroom” engagement and assessment tool. Findings reveal that Twitter did contribute to some students’ sense of community. We offer suggestions for how instructors can successfully integrate Twitter activities into their course assessment to make them more engaging and to improve connectedness.

L’utilisation des médias sociaux dans l’éducation postsecondaire prend de l’ampleur, entraînant l’augmentation de la documentation de recherche qui examine leur efficacité à motiver les élèves. Des études se sont penchées sur l’utilisation de Twitter comme outil d’évaluation et de participation. Comme il s’agit d’un domaine de recherche vaste et en croissance, il est important de mieux comprendre si Twitter peut favoriser ces résultats dans le cadre d’un cours universitaire de haut niveau. Cet article explore ces thèmes en s’appuyant sur un sondage réalisé auprès des étudiants (N=37) dans un cours de sociologie de la déviance. Il examine également comment les étudiants ont réagi à l’usage de Twitter comme outil de participation à une « classe-collectivité » et comme outil d’évaluation. Les conclusions révèlent que Twitter a contribué au sentiment d’appartenance à la collectivité de certains étudiants. Nous offrons des suggestions sur la façon dont les instructeurs peuvent intégrer avec succès des activités liées à Twitter dans leurs évaluations de cours afin de rendre ceux-ci plus motivants et d’améliorer la connectivité.

Author Biographies

Adrienne M.F. Peters, Memorial University of Newfoundland

Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology 

Jane Costello, Memorial University of Newfoundland

Senior Instructional Design Specialist, Centre for Innovation in Teaching and Learning (CITL)

Daph Crane, Memorial University of Newfoundland

Senior Instructional Designer, Centre for Innovation in Teaching and Learning (CITL)


Adams, B., Raes, A., Montrieux, H., & Schellens, T. (2018). “Pedagogical tweeting” in higher education: Boon or bane? International Journal of Educational Technology, 15, 19-35. doi:10.1186/s41239-018-0102-5

Bates, A. W. (2015). Understanding technology in education. In Teaching in a digital age: Guidelines for designing teaching and learning (pp. 201-207). Vancouver, Canada: Tony Bates Associations Ltd. Retrieved from

Battistich, V., Solomon, D., Kim, D., Watson, M., & Schaps, E. (1995). Schools as communities, poverty levels of student populations, and students' attitudes, motives, and performance: A multilevel analysis. American Educational Research Journal, 32(3), 627-658. doi:10.3102/00028312032003627

Bista, K. (2014). Twitter in higher education: New pedagogy in the knowledge era of globalization. In M. Limbu & B. Gurung (Eds.), Emerging pedagogies in the networked knowledge society (pp. 195-205). Hershey, PA: IGI Global Publications. doi:10.4018/978-1-4666-4757-2.ch010

Borau K., Ullrich C., Feng J., & Shen R. (2009). Microblogging for language learning: Using Twitter to train communicative and cultural competence. In M. Spaniol, Q. Li, R. Klamma, & R.W.H. Lau (Eds.), Advances in Web Based Learning – ICWL 2009: Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 5685, (pp. 78-87). Berlin, Germany: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-03426-8_10

Chawinga, W. D. (2017). Taking social media to a university classroom: Teaching and learning using Twitter and blogs. International Journal of Educational Technology, 14, 3-22. doi:10.1186/s41239-017-0041-6

Chen, L., & Chen, T. L. (2012). Use of Twitter for formative evaluation: Reflections on trainer and trainees’ experiences. British Journal of Educational Technology, 43(2), E49–E52. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8535.2011.01251.x

Chickering, A. W., & Gamson, Z. F. (1987). Seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education. Washington, DC: American Association for Higher Education. Retrieved from

Dunlap, J. C., & Lowenthal, P. R. (2009). Tweeting the night away: Using Twitter to enhance social presence. Journal of Information Systems Education, 20(2), 129-136.

Evans, C. (2014). Twitter for teaching: Can social media be used to enhance the process of learning? British Journal of Educational Technology, 45(5), 902–915. doi:10.1111/bjet.12099

Fox, B. I., & Varadarajan, R. M. (2011). Use of Twitter to encourage interaction in a multicampus pharmacy management course. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 75, 88-95. doi:10.5688/ajpe75588

Freeman, S., Eddy, S. L., McDonough, M., Smith, M. K., Okoroafor, N., Jorth, H., & Wenderoth, M. P. (2014). Active learning increases student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics. In B. Alberts (Ed.) Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 111(34), 8410-8415. doi:10.1073/pnas.1319030111

Friesen, N., & Lowe, S. (2011). The questionable promise of social media for education: Connective learning and the commercial imperative. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 28(3), 183-194. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2729.2011.00426.x

Goldsmith, A. (2015). Disgracebook policing: Social media and the rise of police indiscretion. Policing and Society, 25(3), 249-267. doi:10.1080/10439463.2013.864653

Gruzd, A., Jacobson, J., Mai, P., & Dubois, E. (2018). The state of social media in Canada 2017. Toronto, Canada: Ryerson University Social Media Lab. doi:10.5683/SP/AL8Z6R

Harasim, L. (2012). Learning theory and online technologies. New York, NY: Routledge; Taylor and Francis Group.

Harrison, R., & Thomas, M. (2009). Identity in online communities: Social networking sites and language learning. International Journal of Emerging Technologies and Society, 7(2), 109-124.

Hitchcock, L. I., & Young, J. A. (2016) Tweet, tweet!: Using live Twitter chats in social work education. Social Work Education, 35(4), 457-468. doi:10.1080/02615479.2015.1136273

Hsu, Y., & Ching, Y. (2012). Mobile microblogging: Using Twitter and mobile devices in an online course to promote learning in authentic contexts. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 13(4), 211-227. doi:10.19173/irrodl.v13i4.1222

Java, A., Song, X., Finin, T., & Tseng, B. (2007). Why we Twitter: Understanding microblogging usage and communities. Paper presented at the Proceedings of the 9th WebKDD and 1st SNA-KDD 2007 Workshop on Web Mining and Social Network, Analysis, pp. 56-65. doi:10.1145/1348549.1348556

Junco, R., Elavsky, M., & Heiberger, G. (2013). Putting Twitter to the test: Assessing outcomes for student collaboration, engagement and success. British Journal of Educational Technology, 44(2), 273-287. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8535.2012.01284.x

Junco, R., Heiberger, G., & Loken, E. (2011). The effect of Twitter on college student engage- ment and grades. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 27(2), 119-132. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2729.2010.00387.x

Kaplan, A. M., & Haenlein, M. (2010). Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of social media. Business Horizons, 53, 59-68. doi:10.1016/j.bushor.2009.09.003

Kuh, G. D. (2009). What student affairs professionals need to know about student engagement. Journal of College Student Development, 50(6), 683-706. doi:10.1353/csd.0.0099

Madge, C., Meek, J., Wellens, J., & Hooley, T. (2009). Facebook, social integration and informal learning at university: It is more for socialising and talking to friends about work than for actually doing work. Learning, Media and Technology, 34(2), 141-155. doi:10.1080/17439880902923606.

Mao, J. (2014). Social media for learning: A mixed methods study on high school students’ technology affordances and perspectives. Computers in Human Behavior, 33, 213-223. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2014.01.002

McGrath, P. B., Gutierrez, P. M., & Valadez, I. M. (2000). Introduction of the college student social support scale: Factor structure and reliability assessment. Journal of College Student Development, 41, 415-426.

Memorial University of Newfoundland. (2017). Fact book 2016. St. John’s, Canada: Author. Retrieved from

Menkhoff, T., Chay, Y. W., Bengtsson, M. L., Woodard, C. J., & Gan, B. (2015). Incorporating microblogging (“tweeting”) in higher education: Lessons learnt in a knowledge management course. Computers in Human Behavior, 51(B), 1295-1302. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2014.11.063

Rohr, L. E. & Costello, J. (2015). The use of Twitter as an assessment tool in a large enrollment online course. Online Learning: Official Journal of the Online Learning Consortium: Invited Papers / OLC 20th Anniversary Conference Special Issue, 19(4), 25-36.

Rohr, L. E., Costello, J., & Hawkins, T. (2015). Design considerations for integrating Twitter into an online course. International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 16(4), 241-249. doi:10.19173/irrodl.v16i4.2376

Rosenberg, J., & Egbert, N. (2011). Online impression management: Personality traits and concerns for secondary goals as predictors of self-presentation tactics on Facebook. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 17(1), 1-18. doi:10.1111/j.1083-6101.2011.01560.x

Sigona, A. (2015). Impression management on Facebook and Twitter: Where are people more likely to share positivity or negativity with their audiences? Young Scholars in Writing, 12, 134-141.

Smith, T., & Lambert, R. (2014). A systematic review investigating the use of Twitter and Facebook in university-based healthcare education. Health Education, 114(5), 347-366. doi:10.1108/HE-07-2013-0030

Statistics Canada. (2013). Individual Internet use and e-commerce, 2012. The Daily. Ottawa, ON: Author. Retrieved from

Statistics Canada. (2017). Postsecondary enrolments, by program type, credential type, age groups, registration status and sex, annual (number), CANSIM Table, 477-0033. Retrieved from

Stewart, O. G. (2015). A critical review of the literature of social media’s affordances in the classroom. E-Learning and Digital Media, 12, 481-501. doi:10.1177/2042753016672895

Tang, Y., & Hew, K. F. (2017). Using Twitter for education: Beneficial or simply a waste of time? Computers & Education, 106(2017), 97-118. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2016.12.004

Voorn, R. J. J., & Kommers, P. A. M. (2013). Social media and higher education: Introversion and collaborative learning from the student’s perspective. International Journal of Social Media and Interactive Learning Environments, 1(1), 59-73. doi:10.1504/IJSMILE.2013.051650

Wakefield, J. S., Warren, S. J., & Alsobrook, M. (2011). Learning and teaching as communicative actions: A mixed-methods Twitter study. Knowledge Management & E- Learning: An International Journal, 3(4), 563-584.

Watts, A. (2017, January 7). A 21-year-old college student breaks down which social networks are hot and which are not. Business Insider. Retrieved from

Welch, B. K., & Bonnan-White, J. (2012). Twittering to increase student engagement in the university classroom. Knowledge Management & E-Learning: An International Journal, 4(3), 325-345.

Woo, Y., & Reeves, T. (2008). Interaction in asynchronous web-based learning environments: Strategies supported by educational research. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 12(3-4), 179-194.