Use of Social Networks to Motivate Computer-Engineering Students to
Participate in Self-assessment Activities
Carlos GUERRERO, Antoni JAUME-I-CAPÓ
University of Balearic Islands
Crta. Valldemossa km 7.5, Palma, E-07122, Spain
Abstract: Motivation is essential in the learning process of university students, and teachers should have a wide range of strategies to address this issue. The emergence of social technologies has had a considerable influence in e-learning systems, and a number of experts state that their use is a good method to motivate students and to increase their participation in activities. This study attempts to determine whether social networks and social applications should be viewed as many other tools or whether they can actually provide extra motivation for students to participate. The study compared the percentage of student participation in tasks of self-assessment. The experiments covered three traditional strategies of student motivation and another one in which social networks were used to introduce, explain and deliver the self-assessment tasks. The case with a higher participation was the one in which students obtained a reward from the completion of the activity. Despite this result, the statistical analysis indicated that the use of social networks obtained similar results as a strategy of continuous and regular motivational speeches.
CITE THIS PAPER AS:
Carlos GUERRERO, Antoni JAUME-I-CAPÓ, Use of Social Networks to Motivate Computer-Engineering Students to Participate in Self-assessment Activities, Studies in Informatics and Control, ISSN 1220-1766, vol. 23 (2), pp. 197-206, 2014.
The use of social computing and social networks has extended to a wide range of fields and activities. Education in general and universities in particular, are influenced by this technological evolution, as shown by the numerous new applications that integrate learning processes and social activities. However, some professors are a bit skeptical about the usefulness of this type of technology. The research we present in this article attempts to determine the influence of social networks on student motivation. The goal was to study if social networks and social applications are just a new type of tool professors can use or if they are, in themselves, a way to motivate students.
The study presents quantitative research comparing the significant differences among four different motivation strategies. Student responses to these strategies were compared based ontheir participation in course activities. Self-assessment was the activity of interest because it is notably useful but also difficult to convince students to engage in it.
The number of students who actually performed the goal activity (self-assessment task) was measured in four different motivation cases. The first strategy, which constituted the control group, consisted of explaining to the students only once at the beginning of the activity why they should complete the self-assessment tasks (initial strategy). The second one was to remind the students periodically to self-assess, insisting often on its advantages (regular strategy). A third strategy was to reward through their grades those students who complete self-assessment tasks (rewarded strategy). Finally, we used social networks to convince students to self-assess (social strategy).
Every experienced instructor knows that the best possible motivation for student participation is to award points towards his grade for participation. It is also clear that more students complete a task if they are reminded about it several times rather than being told only once. Despite these influences, the numerical differences between these three cases are not clear. The first goal of this experiment was to measure the numerical differences between these three traditional motivation strategies. Moreover, the experiment was designed to establish the relative student participation achieved due to the use of social networks compared to the other three strategies.
The study was conducted on computer engineering students. The results showed that there is a significant and important improvement in using the social and the regular strategies over the initial one. These two (social and regular) did not show a statistically significant difference. As expected, the rewarded strategy showed the highest student participation. The results were validated by studying the significant differences using the Kruskal-Wallis test.
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