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1 An Exploration of the Use of Text Messaging by College Students and Its Impact on Their Social and Literacy Behaviors Kenneth J. Weiss, Ed.D.

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Presentation on theme: "1 An Exploration of the Use of Text Messaging by College Students and Its Impact on Their Social and Literacy Behaviors Kenneth J. Weiss, Ed.D."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 An Exploration of the Use of Text Messaging by College Students and Its Impact on Their Social and Literacy Behaviors Kenneth J. Weiss, Ed.D. (weisskej@ccsu.edu) Associate Professor Department of Reading and Language Arts Central Connecticut State University New Britain, CT Presented at the 22 nd World Congress of The International Reading Association San Jose, Costa Rica July 29, 2009

2 2 Sit bac, rlax, nd nta d wrld of txt msgn! Id lk 2 welcom ll of u 2 my presentaiton. Im abt2 presnt my findings frm d stdy.

3 3 Hw mne of u fnd dat yr studnts r sneaking tx abbreviations n2 their 4mal rytn n yr classes? Hv y evr noticd dat sumtyms students spech patterns reflect d conventions of on9 ch@?

4 4 Purpose of the study Recently, research has emerged concerning the various uses of the Internet, and in particular, Text Messaging (TM), as a means of alternative communication among children and adults alike. While teaching both my undergraduate and graduate courses, I have noticed an increase in text message abbreviations being used in students formal writing. This includes students emails, on line discussions for class, as well as in the oral language patterns used by some students. Subtle differences were noted in some of my students in- class collegial behaviors (texting under the desk).

5 5 Purpose of the study - continued As a direct result of these observations, and with the appearance of various lay press and professional journal articles surfacing about text messaging, I was interested in building on this body of research, particularly looking at the impact of Text Messaging on the social and literacy behaviors (spelling, vocabulary) of college students.

6 6 Purpose of the study - continued The current generation of both traditional and non- traditional students has had the use of this technology for several years and, for many of them, it has become second nature, replacing the older technology of using telephones for extensive ORAL conversations (as opposed to quick text messages), as well as written forms of communication. Some research has focused on the many uses of new technologies as a further means of communication.

7 Purpose of the study - continued Just recently, the Pew Internet & American Life Project issued a report entitled Writing, technology and teens (2008). In a section of this report, Lenhart, Arafeh, Smith and Rankin Macgill (2008) indicate that many educators and observers have expressed concern that the abbreviated language styles of text messaging, email and wall posts are filtering inappropriately into formal school writing (p. 21). 7

8 Purpose of the study - continued In addition Lenhart et al. (2008) reported that young adults generally do not believe that technology negatively influences the quality of their writing, but they do acknowledge that the informal styles of writing that mark the use of these text-based technologies for many teens do occassionally bleed into their school work (p. 21). 8

9 9 Purpose of the study - continued Lewis and Fabos (2005) provided a study concerning instant messaging that addressed issues of social identities among grade school students. Alvermann (2002) looked at adolescents literacy activities in the digital age. Leu (2000) reported on the consequences for literacy education in an information age. The interest in these newly developing technologies is significant in terms of their impact on social as well as educational issues.

10 10 New literacies Formal vs informal writing Opportunities using TM talk and writing to get to know more about our students interests University initiatives to capitalize on TM for mass communication of messages, admissions contacts, etc. The use at VA Tech [and other institutions] to spread the word (NY Times, April 17, 2007).

11 11 In the news… A recent high school contest winner who text messaged the word supercalifragilisticexpialidocious in less than 15 seconds and stated that she text messages over 8,000 messages per month.

12 12 Recent AT&T Wireless Ad Advertising campaigns such as this one, where multi-generations are text messaging, brings to the forefront the level of acceptance and usage of TM

13 13 Research Questions 1. How might understanding the nature and use of Text Messaging allow us to better understand the communicative skills of our students and consequently, to be better able to communicate with them? 2. How might the use of electronic conversations interplay with the need for understanding face-to-face conversation in the college classroom? 3. How will pre- and in-service teachers deal with the infusion of text message language and use in their own classroom assignments and papers? 4.What roles do we, as university faculty play, if any, in working with these changes in both written and oral communication? What are our ethical obligations, if any?

14 14 Methods and Procedures –The study employed a mixed research methodology that included both qualitative and quantitative analysis. –I modified an open-ended multi-question survey (Lewis & Fabos, 2005) to better explore my pre- and in-service college students use of Text Messaging. –I explored past and present experiences, reasons and frequency of its use, and what college students perceived as the value of using this method of communication.

15 15 Methods and Procedures - continued The questionnaire consisted of 42 open-ended questions in a downloadable Word document. Surveys were made available in all of my classes and were also distributed to other professors throughout selected courses at the university who expressed their interest in helping secure additional data on my behalf. Post-survey interviews were conducted with 31 students.

16 16 Data Coding and Analysis 85 surveys were returned (approx. a 22% return rate) –out of a possible 382, 175 were distributed to my own students These surveys were coded using NVivo7 qualitative data analysis survey that allowed for grouping responses according to a set of coding criteria that I chose to identify. Students identification was kept anonymous and they were only identified by the following criteria: Male/Female; Undergraduate/Graduate; and Age.

17 17 Data Set N = 85 –UG Females66 –UG Males 7 –GR Females 11 –GR Male 1

18 18 Age of participants Age range 20 – 42 Average age = 23

19 19 Average number of years using TM: 7.8 years Mode = 11 years Low = 6 months (42 year old parent just to communicate with freshman daughter going to school across country) high = 14 years

20 20 A closer look at some responses Responses to questions # 21, 40, 42 were extremely revealing in terms of participants perceptions. Please refer to the handout for a copy of the entire survey and for a list of selected responses to these three questions, in particular.

21 21 Sample responses Question 21. How would you describe the students you know who use TEXT MESSAGING? Question 40. Has using TEXT MESSAGING in any way changed the way you write with paper and pen? If so, how? – No (outright and emphatically no!!!) = 55 of the 85 respondents Question 42: Do you find yourself using TEXT MESSAGING abbreviated words when you spell on paper? –NO = 26 –YES (with no elaboration) = 21 –Sometimes = 6

22 22 Moreover… Examination of my students written work point to inconsistencies between reported use of TM in formal writing and classroom talk versus actual writing samples and/or classroom observations. Many respondents indicated that they do NOT use TM in their writing, and yet, here are three examples of actual respondents writing:

23 23 Sample from an undergraduates literacy autobiography: When I wz a kid I was drawn 2 teach. I had 3 younger siblings hu quickly bcam my studnts. I wz happy 2 share…

24 24 Graduate students reflective response: I dnt care w@ levl my students r on as long as they are readn.

25 25 Post-baccalaureate students response journal: F students had that filled out ahead of tym it wd mak mor sense 2 conference with ea other.

26 26 RESULTS

27 How might understanding the nature and use of Text Messaging allow us to better understand the communicative skills of our students and consequently, to be better able to communicate with them? First and foremost, is the emerging reality that we are beginning, and will continue to see changes in the way our students present formal writing in our classrooms. As educators, and especially as teacher educators, we must decide how to respond to this non-traditional writing. We must also find ways to use this new technology and form of communication to encourage an open discussion of our students ideas. 27

28 and… Having stated that, I see these as major opportunities to accept our students use of TM language for informal writing, but also for modeling and requiring conventional use of language when writing is more formal. In turn this may help students to recognize their use of TM and when it might or might not be appropriate. 28

29 How might the use of electronic conversations interplay with the need for understanding face-to-face conversation in the college classroom? Data from the surveys indicate that many of my students question the tone and undertone of many text messages. This leads to the importance of finding more ways for students to interact face-to- face in the college classroom –To get to know their colleagues –To hear their ideas aloud 29

30 How will pre- and in-service teachers deal with the infusion of text message language and use in their own classroom assignments and papers? Students (graduate and undergraduate) in our own classrooms Our pre-service student teachers a. in terms of their lesson plans and their modeling in classrooms In-service teachers a. modeling b. expectation of their own students writing and speaking c. communications with other stakeholders 30

31 What roles do we, as university faculty play, if any, in working with these changes in both written and oral communication? What are our ethical obligations, if any? Proponents of the new literacies such as Leu, warn us of the need as educators to teach our students how and under what circumstances they could be using all these new technologies. Do we correct our students own written work to reflect accepted standards of written communication? Do we embrace this new writing? How do we guide our own students to quality decision making when it comes to not only their own formal writing, but when their students submit writing using elements of text messaging? 31

32 32 Conclusions The use of text messaging is here to stay. Our students now entering our education programs have been exposed to and have used this form of communication on a regular basis. It is up to us, as educators and mentors, to help our students see the benefits and limitations of using this form of communication in their formal writing and the writing of their own classroom students. As in most educational decisions, we need to explore what the benefits and limitations might be with the acceptance of text messaging writing in more formal situations.

33 33 A GREAT Web Site… http://www.lingo2word.com/translate.php Translates text messages from Lingo to plain English, or from plain English to lingo.

34 34 TY 4 yr tym n intrst -- nw -- go gntLy N2 d wrld of txt msgN For additional information, please contact me at weisskej@ccsu.edu

35 35 Selected References Alvermann, D. E. (2002). Adolescents and literacies in a digital world. New York: Peter Lang. Kurkjian, C., Abadiano, H.R., & Weiss, K.J. (1999). Electronic exchanges across campuses: Facilitating forums for concerns and issues surrounding selection and use of multicultural literature. In Carl A. Grant's (Ed.) Proceedings of the National Association for Multicultural Education. NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Association, Inc., Chapter 17, pp. 338-358. Lenhart, A., Arafeh, S., Smith, A. & Rankin Macgill, A. (2008). Writing, technology and teens. Washington, DC: Pew/Internet. Available from: http://www.pewinternet.org.http://www.pewinternet.org Leu, D. J. (2000). Literacy and technology: Deictic consequences for literacy education in an information age. In M. Kamil, P.B. Mosenthal, P.D. Pearson, & R. Barr (Eds.), Handbook of reading research. III, pp. 743-770. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum. Lewis, C. & Fabos, B. (2005). Instant messaging, literacies, and social identities. Reading Research Quarterly, 40, 470-500.


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