Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2019

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

First Advisor

Dr. Andrew Martin

Second Advisor

Dr. Barbara Demmig-Adams

Third Advisor

Dr. Beth Osnes


While lecture-style classrooms do not adequately prepare students for the realities of careers in the sciences, classroom structured for active learning help students establish critical thinking skills and analytical abilities, problem solving skills, and the capacity to successfully collaborate in a group. Active learning (as the opposite of passive, lecture-style learning) better prepares and educates students for the demands of real-world science. A better understanding of the relationship between students’ social media connectedness, their grades, and with whom and how they are associating in class may improve the implementation of active learning and student comprehension. While the relationship between education and social media remains poorly studied, a potential for positive and negative aspects of social media in educational settings has been suggested. Social media have been suggested to aid in student engagement, learning, communication and participation as well as extend and/or enrich the online classroom. Data were collected using an online survey distributed by the professor via Qualtrics. Many students were found to have been connected socially before the start of the class. In addition, 21% of students sampled became connected on social media as a result of this class. No relationship was found between either how connected students were to the person they sat next to in class and or students’ final exam scores. Some students who started as strangers ended up connecting to the person they sat next to at a level equal to that of students who knew each other before the start of the class. Since social media, by nature, offer additional channels for communication among students, increased social media connectedness is likely to influence classroom dynamics. Further research should address social media connectedness within active-learning classrooms and its influence on classroom dynamics since this study has is showing that students are, in fact, connecting. Further research could also investigate the impact of instruction style on social media connections by comparing lecture-style with active-learning classrooms.