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Mathematics Teacher Professional Development via Conference Tweeting and Blogging: A Mixed Methods Analysis
AuthorWaddell Jr., Glenn Howard
AdvisorQuinn, Robert J.
AltmetricsView Usage Statistics
This purpose of this mixed methods study was to examine the human activity of attendance at a mathematics teachers’ conference, TMathC 2017, which was mediated through Twitter and blogging. Tweets containing the hashtag #TMC17 were downloaded over a 53-day time period and were analyzed through social networking analysis software to understand the networking behaviors of the participants (Hansen, Shneiderman, & Smith, 2010; Hennig, Brandes, Pfeffer, & Mergel, 2012). Qualitative content analysis was used on the unique tweets and reflective blog posts to uncover the activity of the attending and remote conference participants. This qualitative analysis was done by using a framework of Engeström’s third generation Cultural-Historical Activity Theory (2015) to understand the complex nature of the human activity and relationships among the participants. The social network analysis found a ‘tight crowd’ of network participants who were highly engaged, whether they were attending or remote participants. Evidence of the tight crowd network was found in the high centrality measures of the top 1% of the network. The network clusters also showed a large amount of both inter- and intra-cluster connections, with few clusters being isolated. The qualitative analysis uncovered the structure of a community which had rules of showing gratitude and support for others, developing relationships, encouraging a high level of engagement, and a commitment to the classroom and personal growth. The conference had effective use of hashtags as a communication tool, as well as other tools that reduced the difference between presenters and participants. Tensions which promoted learning included creating vulnerability in participants and focusing on classroom growth. Mixing the data revealed that first-time attendees and experienced attendees had similar quantitative and qualitative behaviors. In addition, other differences in how hashtags and content was shared among the different groups of participants were uncovered. This study of the TMathC 2017 conference showed how social media could be utilized in positive, constructive ways to benefit all groups of participants in future conferences. Specific recommendations on methodological implications, hashtag creation and use, virtual filing cabinets, and community building were created.