How Twitter Saved my Literature Class, 3

Welcome to installment 3/10 of “How Twitter Saved my Literature Class: A Case Study with Discussion.” For more on teaching with twitter, read the full text

My thinking about how best to use Twitter was informed by a teaching technique that I borrowed from a mentor of mine, Professor emeritus Jon Wagner of the School of Education at UC Davis. Wagner requires students enrolled in some of his large enrollment classes submit daily responses to assigned readings. Rather than creating study questions for each assigned text, Wagner requires only that students submit a single one-page document that include salient quotations from the text, one or more questions about difficult concepts or obscure passages, and one or more comments about a crucial or central topic or concern raised by the previous night’s reading (personal communication, 2007). These documents are called QQCs, standing in this instance for Quotation, Question, and Comment. The best of these comments function as the equivalent of thesis statements: interesting and debatable assertions that require supporting evidence from the text. By collecting these QQCs, and offering commentary on students’ thinking, the instructor can provide necessary feedback on a student’s understanding of concepts encountered in the assigned texts as well as answer questions posed directly to the instructor.

The QQC approach helps to ensure that students complete the reading for class and gives the instructor a sense of students’ discoveries and misconceptions; however, a number of concerns remain: first, at least in a summer class, the course moves so quickly that timing alone makes the instructor’s comments decreasingly relevant and perhaps decreasingly helpful. General concepts can be illuminated by an instructor’s comments, but generally an instructor will find it challenging to offer responses that are both substantive and still current. The second concern is that faculty cannot provide feedback in time to improve classroom discussion, the class activity that determines the success of a class. Students who dutifully complete their QQCs would come to class better prepared to speak, but they would not arrive with the benefits of having those ideas subjected to peer or instructor review. The time-delayed insights are revealed only to the instructor, and his insights sharpen student thinking only on stories that had already been discussed. I decided for my summer literature class that it was time for a new tactic, a new tool to make the daily assignments of the submission of QQCs more interactive, social, and immediate. For our fast-moving summer class, I told students, they would be using Twitter as a means of submitting and sharing their QQCs.

Jones, A. “How Twitter Saved my Literature Class: A Case Study with Discussion.” (2011). Teaching Arts and Science with the New Social Media. A collection edited by Charles Wankel. United Kingdom: Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 91-106.

Post Author: Andy Jones

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