Dr. Amy Marin’s Facebook
persona is “Cliff Stroop,”
pictured here relaxing,
graduating and with his
girlfriend “Ruby Skinner.”
Cliff is a faux graduate
student Marin devised as
a way to better engage her
His class surveys echo recent findings that show that
reinforcing course content via social media can boost learning.
In one 2012 study, published in Teaching of Psychology, Stephen
Blessing, PhD, and colleagues at the University of Tampa found
that using Twitter to reinforce concepts introduced in class via
daily tweets helped students remember information better on a
test than those who didn’t get the tweets.
More work, more reward
Depending on how you look at it, creating a class community
on Facebook also brings another benefit: feedback for teachers.
Students who frequent Facebook tend to comment daily on
what they find most compelling from lectures.
“Students rarely make a special trip to my office to tell me
they found class interesting that day, but a quick posting on
Facebook is giving me a glimpse into how my classes are being
received,” says Marin.
Such feedback also helps professors with huge lecture-hall
classes feel more connected to students.
“It is frustrating to stand on a stage in a huge auditorium,”
says University of Massachusetts–Amherst professor Susan
Krauss Whitbourne, PhD, who has 440 students in her intro to
psychology course. Her Facebook dialogues with students “help
bring the course into their lives a little more.”
How to start your own page
For Marin, “Cliff” has also allowed her to maintain
professional boundaries, all while having fun with her students.
“I tend to be formal in the classroom. I don’t have lunch with
students or chat after,” she says. “This is a way for me to connect
with them differently.”
For those who may want to create a class Facebook page, Marin
and others share this advice:
• Promote it. Tell the class about the page, highlight it on
the syllabus and post at least two or three times per week at the
beginning of the semester. “Give it time, they have to see the
value,” says Golding. Like Gurung, he posts frequently early in
the semester. “That gets them going, then the students take it
from there.” Golding collected data on the amount of postings
and comments students made during his fall 2011 class and
found that students contributed 90 percent of the content.
• Have a separate personal account. Gurung has zero
personal information on the account he uses to manage the
class page. “My personal account is completely off the grid, no
one can even search and find it, and my academic account is all
academic,” he says. Faculty should also familiarize themselves