My dissertation study brought together three of my interests in examining how high school social studies teachers are using Twitter for civic education: social media, social studies, and social justice.
For my dissertation, I wanted to conduct an exploratory study in order to see what teachers are doing with Twitter in civic education. To do this, I had one primary research question, which was to describe the experiences of teachers who fit those criteria, who were using Twitter to teach about civics. While I was interested in the complete picture of what it was like for these teachers to teach civic education with Twitter, I was especially interested in why and for what purpose the teachers were using Twitter, so as to see if their reasons and objectives were aligned with principles of constructivism, the methods of effective civic education, and the affordances of Twitter.
Because this is an exploratory study, I wanted to interview a few teachers in-depth to understand their contexts and experiences. I interviewed 5 teachers from various contexts; the attention to different contexts was built from literature which said that civic education is taught differently in low versus high SES contexts. These were all veteran teachers who had been using Twitter in their classes to teach civic education.
For this study, I used both a phenomenological and a qualitative case study approach. Phenomenology examines a participant’s lifeworld and context for the purposes of understanding the meaning that participants make from that experience. The reason that I used two approaches was that I wanted to understand the teachers who chose to use Twitter for civic education well, but I also wanted to understand the teachers’ pedagogical approaches. To collect my data, I conducted in-depth interviews with each of the teachers. Part of each interview was to explore who the teacher was and the context in which they taught, and part of each interview was to understand their choices and pedagogies in using Twitter in civic education.
Results from the study showed that the teachers' use of Twitter for civic education amplified student voice and fostered student agency. For more information, please click the link above to access the dissertation, or follow me on Twitter for news of publications coming from this study.