Study: Should Shy Students Tweet Instead Of Raising Their Hand?

I was a shy student. It took me until middle school to actually feel comfortable enough around my classmates to speak up in class. Back then, there was no Twitter. Now, shy students are apparently preferring to communicate with their teacher via Twitter instead of raising their hand.

Personally, having to raise my hand in front of everyone else was terrifying at first but taught me how to be more confident and embrace my intellect. I eventually took pride in raising my hand and got to the point in graduate school where I hoped the professor would actually call on me. A far cry from my middle school days hiding in the back of the class whenever possible.

An article by The Herald Sun delves into a bit more detail about why students prefer tweeting over hand-raising. Excerpts are embedded below. Be sure to weigh in down in the comments or by raising your hand.

The Courier-Mail reports new research from Southern Cross University has found strong benefits for the use of Twitter by students too embarrassed or uncomfortable to ask teachers questions in the time-honoured raised-hand method.

Southern Cross business lecturer Jeremy Novak, along with Central Queensland University’s Dr Michael Cowling, studied the use of Twitter among university students as a method for asking questions and gaining feedback without having to stand the stares and scrutiny of fellow students.

The positive feedback from students, particularly international students, has convinced the research team the use of Twitter technology could also be embraced by classrooms at high school and even primary school level.

“Twitter is another exciting teaching aide that is highly under-utilised by lecturers and teachers in the education sector,” Mr Novak said.

“Hopefully it would lead to fewer passengers in the classroom and allow those students who are less likely to engage with teachers, for social or cultural reasons, to participate.”

Under the recent study, students were able to send anonymous tweets to teachers asking for better explanations or more detailed answers to questions during university lectures.

The tweets were sent directly to the teacher’s computer and accessed through PowerPoint presentations.

However, Mr Novak said there would be some obstacles to overcome to ensure Twitter became an effective classroom tool and not the time-waster it can be among other demographics of society.

Students pretending to tweet questions to teachers while really texting friends or updating their Facebook status would be the 21st century equivalent of mischievous schoolkids hiding comic books inside their textbooks.

“Computers are already commonplace at all levels of schooling so this is where it would be up to the teacher or lecturer to set clear boundaries on what the technology is used for,” he said.

There would also be the issue of having Generation Y students with vastly superior social networking skills to those of teachers who learnt their craft before the computer era arrived.

“Teachers would have to be savvy with the technology, but if those things were overcome there is no reason this could not be used to augment teaching methods,” he said.

“We don’t see Twitter replacing actual class participation or interaction, but it could be a very valuable tool to add to the teacher’s toolbox.”


  1. janemelvin2

    January 19, 2012 at 10:34 am

    Isn’t there also a role for us to encourage the quieter or shyer students to have the confidence to speak out? We can’t go through life using Twitter to respond. Twitter has a valuable place but social media is a bonus not a replacement.

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