“I see smart people!”: Using Facebook to supplement cognitive and affective learning in the university mass lecture


Mass lecture courses are a mainstay in university instruction despite their limitations regarding student engagement and resultant learning outcomes. Out-of-class communications and learning management systems have been developed to address these limitations, but the former is resource-intensive and the latter is often viewed as an administrative rather than pedagogical aid. Facebook groups have proven to be useful and persistent spaces for connecting individuals around innumerable topics of interest. In this study, a course-specific Facebook group was created for an introductory mass media course at a large mid-Atlantic university to serve as a supplemental (and voluntary) space for course content discussions. End-of-the semester grades of the Facebook group users were significantly higher than the non-users, t(319) = 4.71, p < 001. In terms of affective learning, an analyses of the student responses indicated that students generally felt positively about being a part of the Facebook group. Thematic analysis of the Facebook posts indicated that students mainly used this space to discuss exam-related matters. We discuss potential reasons for this outcome, and implications of current research for future research and practice.

The internet and higher education