‘Facebook = low college grades’ study hardly an A+


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A study by Ohio State University claims Facebook users spend less time studying and get lower grades than classmates who don’t use the site. But there are some serious flaws in the study’s logic.

A survey of 219 students found that 85% of undergraduates use Facebook. Those who do have grade-point averages between 3.0 and 3.5, while those who don’t have averages between 3.5 and 4.0. Facebook users averaged one to five hours a week of studying, while non-users averaged 11 to 15 hours. Students disagree with the conclusions, with 79% of Facebook users claiming the site didn’t affect academic performance.

The problem with studies such as this is that they assume a link between two facts: as the saying goes, correlation does not equal cessation. It’s entirely possible that the type of students who use Facebook are the type of people who are less likely to study in the first place and that Facebook is simply how they choose to fill the time that comes from not studying.

To be fair to the study author, Aryn Karpinski, she does state that β€œIt cannot be stated (that) Facebook use causes a student to study less. I’m just saying that they’re related somehow, and we need to look into it further.”

The figures themselves are also pretty vague. The study report doesn’t give specific figures about the grades and simple says the students’ results “generally” fitted into the stated ranges. That makes it tough to tell exactly how significant the differences between Facebook users and non-users was.

It’s also worth nothing that 85% of the 102 undergraduate students were regular Facebook users. That means that the comparison for undergraduate students is the behavior of 87 people against that of just 15. That leaves a pretty significant margin of error.

The study didn’t break down the results for either study time or grades between undergraduates and graduates. That provides further room for misleading results as of the non-Facebook-users, barely a fifth were undergraduates. It’s not exactly a fair comparison to stack up undergraduate grades against those of graduates, or to compare the commitments to putting in the hours of studying.

About the only conclusion you can be reasonably confident about from this study is that people who study for longer generally get better grades. But that’s hardly news worth posting a status update about.





11 Responses to ‘Facebook = low college grades’ study hardly an A+

  1. So, in the end, we're agreeing that it was an incompletely planned, and insufficiently (or badly) executed study. With appropriate apologies to Shakespeare "it is a tale. Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing."

    But I'll bet a professor built tenure on it, and a clan of graduate assistants got class credit or pay for doing it, just the same. To add further insult to injury, the study will probably be cited by equally clueless mental midgets to their own ends, ad nauseum.

    ;-)

  2. So, in the end, we’re agreeing that it was an incompletely planned, and insufficiently (or badly) executed study. With appropriate apologies to Shakespeare “it is a tale. Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.”

    But I’ll bet a professor built tenure on it, and a clan of graduate assistants got class credit or pay for doing it, just the same. To add further insult to injury, the study will probably be cited by equally clueless mental midgets to their own ends, ad nauseum.

    ;-)

  3. OSU performing a useless study incorrectly. Is anyone surprised by these frivolous findings? Never start an article with the phrase "A study by Ohio State University," because people will know it's worthless to read except for some good humor.

  4. OSU performing a useless study incorrectly. Is anyone surprised by these frivolous findings? Never start an article with the phrase “A study by Ohio State University,” because people will know it’s worthless to read except for some good humor.

  5. This study was most likely done by a student for their senior project (then published under his/her faculty advisor's name). That would explain the small sample size. With tons of these statistical studies going on, you never know which one will catch on in the media.

  6. This study was most likely done by a student for their senior project (then published under his/her faculty advisor’s name). That would explain the small sample size. With tons of these statistical studies going on, you never know which one will catch on in the media.

  7. Hey now! OSU is a fine university…if you're talking about Oregon. Oh, Ohio. Never mind then :).

    Beyond that I must say that contrary to these "findings" I've never studied for anything. Never have, never will, and I've ended up with good grades.

    Then again, not much to be proud of since it is American government run education we're talking about. All you have to do is show up…most of the time.

  8. Hey now! OSU is a fine university…if you’re talking about Oregon. Oh, Ohio. Never mind then :).

    Beyond that I must say that contrary to these “findings” I’ve never studied for anything. Never have, never will, and I’ve ended up with good grades.
    Then again, not much to be proud of since it is American government run education we’re talking about. All you have to do is show up…most of the time.

  9. Well I generally work 2-3 Jobs, study full time AND use facebook….*Gasp*… and I have a grade average of over 3.5… The problem with allot of these studies is they do not assess the other life factors or the personalities involved, so they will always be somewhat to fairly flawed.

    On a side note: love the blog, keep up the great work :D