Analyzing social media activity is an interesting evaluation methodology. In 2019, I followed the Twitter discussion of the annual conference of the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC). During and immediately after the conference, 200 participants used the hashtags #NAGC19 and #NAGC2019 to share their learning and impressions of the conference.

There are several tools available to analyze Twitter data. I used the free version of Keyhole to summarize hashtag activity and show the wide reach of the social media posts – more than a half-million impressions from tweets and posts. It is also possible to analyze Twitter activity using R. There are many descriptions online of how to do that. The University of Virginia Library provides a useful guide and towards data science also has a useful post about mining and analyzing tweets with R.

Keyhole gives an analysis of the tone of posts. The overall tone of the posts from the conference was positive – with tweets focusing on session content and excitement about being at the conference. The posts that Keyhole tagged as having “negative” sentiments were related to two topics: 1) how to improve services for students, and 2) how to better understand student needs. The posts themselves were not negative, rather, Keyhole coded sentiments of concern, frustration, or challenging practice as “negative”: a thread about perfection and anxiety in gifted students and one about the “Confronting Pseudoscience in Gifted Education” session presented by Kate Snyder (@DressageProf), Bess Wilson, Matt McBee (@TunnelOfFire) Scott J Peters (@realScottPeters) and Frank Worrell.

Also available, is an analysis of posts with the highest sentiment and engagement.

The post that received the highest sentiment – retweets and posts from the 2019 NAGC conference – was by swanwick_w of the hot air balloon that was part of the Family Day activities. Several people posted photos of the gorgeous balloon and about the success of Family Day.

The post with the highest engagement was from Anne Rinn, congratulating student winners at the NAGC Research Gala.

The result that most surprised me was the infrequency of posts focused on assessment. The 21 tweets that included the words “assessment,” “test,” or “testing” mentioned improving equity and psychometric strength of assessment. These topics are of particular concern for co-author Dr. Steven Pfeiffer and myself as we work on the revision of the Gifted Rating Scales and on gather data that the assessment is valid, reliable, and equitable.

This method of analyzing Twitter activity provides insights into activity, sentiment, and topics of interest for an event or discussion. It is also a nice way for organizers to summarize an event for stakeholders.