Over the past few weeks I have been working on the qualitative data analysis of tweets produced by students during their French language learning experience in Dr. Caws’ class, FRAN 160. I have been using the program NVivo to sort and to categorize their tweets by theme or by type of interaction (i.e. with classmates, with the professor or TA, with people they follow). This has allowed us to clearly understand trends in the content of student tweets, as well as ways in which we, as language learning guides, can help to better their learning experience.
Looking through these tweets, I have found it particularly interesting to explore what motivates students to participate. It seems that most of their participation comes from tweets related to their class (i.e. responses to questions, discussing assignments or tests, mentioning an event or topic that was discussed in class) as shown on figure 1 below, rather than tweets related to their personal life, to pop culture or to the people they follow. This data, as well as data from answers they provided in a student survey has lead me to believe that their motivation for using Twitter in a class is highly performance based, rather than intrinsic. Thus, it is our goal to figure out how to motivate them! Looking at the Self-Determination Theory, which states that intrinsic motivation is a result of autonomy, competence and relatedness, I have been exploring the content of their tweets and survey answers to determine what factors might have an impact on future learning experiences. I am therefore exploring questions such as: what will motivate students intrinsically? How can we make them feel that using Twitter is not a chore, but a choice? How can we make them feel more like they are part of an online francophone/francophile community? How can we make them feel more comfortable and competent using Twitter, especially if they are new to the website?
Figure 1: analysis of tweets content themes
I’m eager to continue exploring these questions and the ideas that they will spark for impactful ways to improve the language learning experience!