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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Hashtag History: Historical Thinking & Social Media in an Undergraduate Classroom
by Bennett, Heather L., Ph.D., Drew University, 2019, 67; 13862339
Abstract (Summary)

Sociocultural influences such as family, nation, and personal identity impact undergraduate students’ approaches to history in the classroom. In the digital age, social media is an equally powerful force shaping students’ perceptions and understandings of history. Social media frames students’ reactions to historical content, guides what they pay attention to, and provides a vocabulary for expressing connections between past and present. The habits fostered online impact students’ practice of historical thinking, but thus far historical thinking research has not fully addressed the role of social media in undergraduate students’ articulations of history.

To fill this gap, I investigate a dataset of 11,454 tweets and 74 blog posts publicly produced by the 150 undergraduate students enrolled in my Spring 2017 World Civilizations course offered by the University at Buffalo, Singapore Institute of Management (UB-SIM) program. I use students’ tweets and blog posts to explore the role of three social media trends on two historical thinking skills. Affective response, the attention economy, and visual media cultures common on the web conditioned students’ practice of historical empathy and historical significance. I view these social media habits as both beneficial and detrimental to students’ historical thinking. Like all technologies, social media offers affordances and constraints. When educators and historians focus on only one aspect of social media’s influence, we fail to fully recognize the complex webs of understanding our students bring to their study of history.

In “Hashtag History,” I employ digital methods and tools as well as traditional close-reading methods to make sense of students’ approaches to history. I collected all data for the project using web scraping and then cleaned, compiled, and analyzed the data using R packages, mainly tidyverse and tidy text. Data analysis methods included sentiment analysis and word frequency studies as well as coding and close reading.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Evans, C. Wyatt
Commitee: Bartle, Gamin, Mikulski, Richard M.
School: Drew University
Department: History and Culture
School Location: United States -- New Jersey
Source: DAI-A 80/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social studies education, Educational technology, Higher education
Keywords: Affect, Attention economy, Historical empathy, Historical significance, Historical thinking, Visual media
Publication Number: 13862339
ISBN: 978-1-392-12225-9
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