The effect of Snapchat on learner satisfaction and anatomical knowledge retention: Preliminary observations

FASEB Bioadv. 2021 Aug 27;3(11):909-917. doi: 10.1096/fba.2021-00052. eCollection 2021 Nov.


Biomedical educators have turned to technologies, like social media, to supplement progressive reductions in time spent in class. Many studies of social media have been limited to quantifying learner satisfaction and studies on the effects on learning outcomes are sparse. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of using Snapchat on learner satisfaction and learning outcomes. A Snapchat account was used to share blood flow diagrams during the anatomy course of a physical therapist education program. Viewing statistics were recorded, a survey was distributed, and learning outcomes quantified at the end of the course and 12 months later were compared with a control group that did not have access to the account. Eighty-two percent of the class subscribed to the Snapchat account and 86.7% of the subscribers completed viewing of the five drawings posted. Learners rated the account as extremely accurate, were quite interested in more content presented, and felt quite confident in the diagrams. Performance on blood flow questions on the end of course examinations were similar between experimental and control groups. Assessments administered 12 months later revealed greater scores for the Snapchat group (90.7% correct) compared with the control group (86.7% correct, p = 0.04). These findings suggest that Snapchat is an effective way to deliver educational content and that learners found the content useful, accurate, and helpful in preparing them for the assessment. The ephemeral nature of disappearing content has potential to garner greater student attention and can be leveraged to improve knowledge retention.

Keywords: attention; ephemerality; learning outcomes; snapchat; social media; working memory.