Like, Comment, Share: UH Graduate Class Uses Facebook, Twitter to Teach

Class Aims to Leverage Popularity of Social Networks to Impact Learning of Course Material

What do Facebook and Twitter have to do with “Gender and Cultural Issues in Physical Activity and Fitness”?  The two popular social media networks will be incorporated into the graduate course in the department of health and human performance (HHP) with the goal of enhancing the content. 

“I’ll be testing the effectiveness of implementing social media as a learning strategy to increase student participation, motivation and performance,” said Dr. Lisa Alastuey, HHP clinical assistant professor.  “I expect that these delivery methods will increase the reading of content, which will lead to more students learning the material in greater depth.”

Alastuey’s students will be required to open accounts on both venues where she will be posting supporting materials and articles that relate to the coursework.  Through Twitter, Alastuey will send questions to all students that entail in-depth comprehension of course material. Similarly, on Facebook, Alastuey will post weekly article assignments related to the course content. Students will reply with their own perspective and application of the material.

“The venues encourage mobile conversations and communities.  Students already are going above and beyond with this, posting from their phones or tablets, and talking about what they’re reading,” she said.

Students currently enrolled in the class like it.    

“This was a great avenue not only to refresh our minds on hot topics that affect the community, but also to involve our followers and friends who may read the posts,” said student Jacoby Davis.  “This approach has brought to my attention new physical activity programs and initiatives that I've never heard of. I've provided my thoughts on the most relevant health and wellness issues in society.”

The class examines the impact of gender and cultural beliefs on the physical activity and fitness levels of Hispanic, African American and Caucasian adults and children. Students also will develop interventions that promote physical activity in these populations.

Alastuey will monitor the effectiveness of adding the social media tools, with an eye on expanding its implementation for future courses. 

“I’ll compare the grades of students who have taken this course—through traditional methods—in the past with these current students to help evaluate whether our learning objectives have improved,” she said.  “We’ll also be soliciting comments and suggestions from students.”