Taking Facebook offline: how using social media-inspired paper templates impacts students' writing and engagement

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University of New Brunswick


This qualitative study examines whether and how using Facebook-inspired paper-based templates changes students’ writing characteristics and school engagement levels. Two grade seven classes participated in different literary character analysis activities, one of which involved writing descriptive sentences about a poem’s narrator, while the other class filled out Facebook-inspired paper-based templates, to address the following two research questions: 1) how and in what ways do writing characteristics differ between each activity; and 2) how and in what ways does student engagement in learning using the paper-based Facebook template approach compare with those in the descriptive sentence writing approach? Student writing samples and observation notes were used in conjunction with a writing assessment framework and student engagement model to explore these questions. The findings suggest that those students who completed the Facebook-inspired activity were not only more engaged with the activity, but also produced longer writing pieces that contained stronger examples of voice, word choice, sentence fluency and conventions compared with writing produced by the descriptive sentence group.