Twitter for continuous student ratings

Most physicians of my age only witnessed summative evaluations during their medical education. You studied your stuff and did an exam for which you could fail or not, go or no go. Our exams were tests aiming to summarize learning up to that point. Today most med students are evaluated with formative evaluation. Continuous evaluations carried out directly after a clinical situation or course unit. Formative evaluation is direct, teaching can be adjusted based on these evaluations and it promotes active involvement of the student.

Formative evaluations have to been done often for reliable measuring of progress, it takes more valuable time of staff members, a lot of papers have to be filled in. In short a lot of data and high administrative investment. One solution for this is the use of e-portfolio. Every med student has an online e-portfolio in which all the assessments can be rated and analyzed.

Could twitter be an alternative for this online e-portfolio? The advantages of twitter can be: instant availability online, only followers can see the messages, can be used anonymous when using nonpersonalized nicknames. In a recent study, direct messaging with Twitter was used as a formative evaluation tool.

Students and the teacher used an anonymous, nonpersonalized nickname on Twitter. They used direct messaging on Twitter: students and teachers asked for permission in a bidirectional manner to follow each other’s messages. The teacher was able to read the students’ messages, and each student could read the teacher’s messages; however, the students could not read the messages of their colleagues.

This study showed that in using twitter, formative evaluation does measure other results than summative evaluation, as it should. The online and offline summative evaluation results were identical. The formative evaluation did not influence the results of the summative evaluation. In short, on Twitter the formative evaluation is different from the summative as it should be, so it measures something different. This study only shows that formative evaluation works on twitter. It doesn’t show us if it’s a good solution to administrative work load and other problems with off line formative evaluations. The authors write very little about their practical experiences with twitter for formative evaluation.

What do you think of Twitter as an formative evaluation tool?
Stefan Stieger, D.Sc., & Christoph Burger (2010). Let’s Go Formative: Continuous Student Ratings with Web 2.0 Application Twitter CYBERPSYCHOLOGY, BEHAVIOR, AND SOCIAL NETWORKING, 163-167 : 10.1089/cyber.2009.0128