So the assistant professor in communications at Elizabethtown College designed anexperiment for 120 students at the college and has just reported the results. It turns out that professors with personal Twitter streams appear to be more credible than those who stick to business. The study, co-authored with Jamie Bartolino, one of her students, appears in the most recent issue of Learning, Media and Technology.
The researchers created three accounts on Twitter for three fictional “professors” named Caitlin Milton, Caitlyn Milton, and Katelyn Milton. One account was filled personal tweets (“Feeling good after an early morning swim at the rec center”), the second with scholarly ones (“Working on a study about how social-networking sites can be used in educational settings.”), and the third with a combination.
To Ms. Johnson’s surprise, when the students were surveyed, they rated the personal professor the highest on measures of competence, trustworthiness, and caring—which adds up to credibility.
This is from last year, but it’s nice to see supporting evidence for one of my beliefs about teaching: bringing even a little bit of yourself can be beneficial to students and the learning environment.