Document Type

Dissertation

Publication Date

12-2009

Abstract

Facebook (www.facebook.com) is an online social-networking site used by many high school and college students today in their personal lives. This thesis reports on an exploratory study which investigated the possible increase in writing skills of Spanish language students from incorporating a Facebook component into an otherwise standard college course. Fourth semester college Spanish students were asked to complete weekly writing assignments in Facebook throughout the semester. Regular writing practice on varied topics in the familiar and informal environment of Facebook was expected to increase the language production and the writing skill of the students. The study had several components. The researcher developed a syllabus integrating Facebook writing assignments with the rest of the course. Students completed an initial survey to determine their previous experience with Facebook and their disposition towards the use of computers in general. The entry writing skills of students were measured by applying a Standard-based Measurement of Proficiency writing rubric to an initial writing sample. The instructor monitored the performance of the students on Facebook throughout the semester. The writing skills of the students at the end of the semester were evaluated by applying the same rubric to a final writing sample. Finally, students completed a second survey containing specific questions about their experiences using Facebook as a learning tool throughout. The students wrote substantially in response to the weekly assignments. The measurements revealed a clear increase in their writing abilities between the initial and vi final writing samples. Students self-reported modest-to-considerable higher comfort levels and modest-to-considerable higher proficiency in writing due to the Facebook component. The results are clearly encouraging, but they are also somewhat tentative because of the study’s exploratory nature.

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