K-12 Education and Technology in the 21st Century
Lopez, Daniel A.
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This paper explores an emerging phenomenon in the 21st century – social media – and its effects on public education. Increasingly, educators in K-12 and higher education have incorporated social media practices to different degrees and for different functions to support the overall progress of their institutions. The field in general has mixed reviews on the overall benefits social media can provide in educating students or assisting with other education-related functions. In regards to educating students specifically, some scholars and educators praise the use of technology and social media in their efforts to improve academic performance. However, others have raised many concerns with social media suggesting that it actually lowers academic performance and has other deleterious effects on students. Concerns with privacy also take center stage in the debate, especially within social media use for younger cohorts in K-12 education. Accordingly, this study looks to explore the relationship between social media and public education, specifically through looking at public high schools in Massachusetts. In utilizing survey data submitted from 35 high school Principals and other administrators throughout the state, SAT scores, and other education indicators from the Massachusetts Department of State, I look to explore some of the questions between these two. Using multivariate regressions, the data suggests some surprising results; it is evident that schools in higher socio-economic areas adopt social media at higher rates than schools in lower socio-economic areas. Additionally, though there were no significant findings regarding the types of schools which are using social media or how social media affects a student’s outlook, ambitions, or motivation towards higher education/graduation, the data suggests that social media has a negative relationship with SAT scores. This data was substantively and statistically significant across two indicators for social media and SAT reading, writing, and math scores. More research, including times-series data, is needed to prove a causal relationship between the two – many schools and districts are only recently adopting social media technology into their curriculum.
I would like to thank Professor Taylor Boas of the Political Science Department for his role as my advisor throughout the year. His insight and advice were crucial in the formulation and development of my model and analysis. Thank you very much Professor Boas. I would also like to thank my classmate/colleague Rajani Ghosh for her assistance, advice, and feedback throughout process of creating this study.