page, they say, promotes solidarity in large classes in particular,
by providing a place where students who might not otherwise
connect outside of class share digital flash cards and encourage
each other to study harder.
“They’re not competing, they seem to be saying, ‘Look, we
are in this together,’” says University of Kentucky psychology
professor Jonathan Golding, PhD. He uses Facebook to answer
questions about labs and assignments, highlight deadlines and
post psychology humor and You Tube videos that reinforce
course concepts for his classes. “As an instructor, that’s a very
Engaging with psychology at a new level
It’s equally satisfying to see students connect course concepts
to their lives or to news events when they’re not in class, says
Regan A.R. Gurung, PhD, of the University of Wisconsin–Green
Bay. He posts links to articles from The New York Times and
other publications that highlight new psychology research and
videos he doesn’t have time to screen during class.
At first, he and his teaching assistants posted all the content.
But he found that, after a few weeks, students were the ones
keeping the news feed fresh with their own news links and
comments. “These students are using [Facebook] to engage
with psychology at a level I had never seen when I used course
management systems” such as Desire2Learn, he says.
To find out whether the Facebook content affected his
students’ learning, Gurung surveyed them at the semester’s
end. He found that those who had joined the class’s Facebook
discussion ( 65 percent of the class “liked” his page) had
developed a deeper appreciation for psychology as a science
compared with those who had never joined. Even when he
controlled his findings for grade point average to make sure
high performers weren’t the same ones embracing the Facebook
page, he found that all levels of students were reaping its
benefits. “We weren’t getting just the slackers or just the smart
students” on the Facebook page, he says.